Binge Eating Disorder

  • Medical Author:
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Binge Eating Disorder Pictures Slideshow

Quick GuideEating Disorders Pictures Slideshow: Understanding Binge Eating, Anorexia and Bulimia

Eating Disorders Pictures Slideshow: Understanding Binge Eating, Anorexia and Bulimia

What is binge eating disorder?

Binge eating disorder is a mental illness that is characterized by recurring episodes of binge eating without efforts on the part of the affected individuals to compensate by undoing the binge episodes. Examples of such undoing behaviors include purging food by inducing vomiting, excessively exercising, and/or inappropriately using medications like laxatives or diet pills. This condition was generally described by mental-health professionals under the diagnosis of eating disorder, not otherwise specified rather than as its own separate entity, but the most recent revision of the widely accepted diagnostic manual used by mental-health professionals has included binge eating disorder as a separate diagnosis.

Statistics about binge eating disorder indicate that this condition is the most common of all eating disorders, affecting about 3.5% of women and 2% of men over the course of a lifetime. It is apparently quite common in individuals who seek treatment for obesity in weight-loss programs that are affiliated with a hospital. About one-third of individuals with this condition are males. Most develop the disorder during adolescence or early adulthood. There seems to be no difference in the incidence of binge eating disorder among ethnic groups.

Binge eating disorder can have a significant impact on the health of those who suffer with it. Specifically, 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, like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Women with this illness tend to suffer from a negative body image, whereas men are more likely develop a substance use disorder. Other important facts about binge eating disorder include its tendency to persist for more than 14 years, with only 7% resolving after the first year of having the illness. When compared to other eating disorders like bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa, which each tend to last less than six years, binge eating disorder has more of a chronic nature.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/18/2015
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