Binge Eating Disorder

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

Binge eating disorder facts

  • Binge eating disorder is a mental illness that is characterized by recurring episodes of binge eating without efforts of the affected individuals to compensate by undoing the binge episodes by purging, excessively exercising, and/or inappropriately using medications like laxatives or diet pills.
  • Binge eating disorder affects about 3.5% of women and 2% of men over the course of a lifetime, with most developing the condition during adolescence or early adulthood.
  • About one-third of individuals with binge eating disorder are males. There seems to be no difference in how often binge eating disorder occurs based on ethnic group.
  • About 65% of people with binge eating disorder are obese (20% overweight or more), with even more being generally overweight.
  • Individuals who develop binge eating disorder are at higher risk of also having another psychiatric illness.
  • Binge eating disorder tends to persist for more than 14 years, with only a minority resolving after the first year of having the illness.
  • As with most other mental disorders, there is no one specific cause for binge eating disorder. Rather, it is the result of a complex group of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors.
  • People with this illness tend to lose weight from adopting a low-calorie diet and some will regain weight in the long term. Medications that have been found to be somewhat effective in reducing the number and amount of binge episodes in binge eating disorder include topiramate (Topamax), serotonergic (SSRI) medications, and sibutramine (Meridia).
  • While psychotherapy alone does not tend to result in long-term weight loss in individuals with binge eating disorder, it can be a key component of the treatment of the emotional problems that are often associated with this disorder.
  • People with binge eating disorder seem to be at higher risk of developing high blood pressure, type II diabetes, and abnormal cholesterol levels compared to similar-weight individuals without this eating disorder.
  • Teaching teens and adults about resisting societal pressure toward thinness, understanding what determines body weight, the negative effects of eating disorders, and encouraging good self-esteem, stress management, healthy weight control, and acceptance of their bodies have been found to be helpful in the prevention of eating disorders.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/11/2014

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Binge Eating Disorder - Personal Experience Question: Please share your personal or family's experience with binge eating disorder.
Binge Eating Disorder - Signs and Symptoms Question: What were the signs of a binge eating disorder in a friend or relative?
Binge Eating Disorder - Treatment Question: What types of treatment did you or a relative receive for a binge eating disorder?
Binge Eating Disorder - Causes and Risk Factors Question: Were you, a friend, or relative at risk for developing a binge eating disorder? Please share your story.