What is Binge Eating Disorder?

People with binge-eating disorder experience frequent episodes
of out-of-control eating, with the same binge-eating symptoms as
those with bulimia. The main difference is that individuals with
binge-eating disorder do not purge their bodies of excess calories.
Therefore, many with the disorder are overweight for their age and
height. Feelings of self-disgust and shame associated with this
illness can lead to bingeing again, creating a cycle of binge eating.

Community surveys have estimated that between 2 percent and 5
percent of Americans experience binge-eating disorder in a 6-month
period. Symptoms of binge-eating disorder include:

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating, characterized by eating an excessive amount of food within a discrete period of time and by a sense of lack of control over eating during the episode
  • The binge-eating episodes are associated with at least 3 of the following: eating much more rapidly than normal; eating until
    feeling uncomfortably full; eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry; eating alone because of being
    embarrassed by how much one is eating; feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty after overeating
  • Marked distress about the binge-eating behavior
  • The binge eating occurs, on average, at least 2 days a week for 6 months
  • The binge eating is not associated with the regular use of inappropriate compensatory behaviors (e.g., purging, fasting,
    excessive exercise)

(source: NIH Publication 01-4901, 2001)

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