Binge eating is the consumption of unusually large amounts of food in a discrete time period. Individuals with bulimia and binge eating disorder practice binge eating. Those with bulimia follow binge eating with some type of purging behavior. Those with binge eating disorder do not practice purging, but have feelings of lost control and marked distress over their eating behavior. Normal or overweight individuals who meet the criteria for bulimia, but who do not practice purging or other compensating behaviors, are diagnosed with binge eating disorder.
The prevalence of binge eating disorder in the general population is unknown, but studies suggest that approximately 25-50% of obese individuals binge. Studies also suggest that those suffering from binge eating disorder have difficulties with impulse control in other areas of their lives. The majority of suffers are female, but there are also cases of Binge Eating Disorder in men.
- Frequent episodes of eating large quantities of food in short periods of time, often secretly, without regard to feelings of "hunger" or "fullness."
- Frequent feelings of being "out of control" during binges.
- Eating alone.
- Feelings of shame, disgust or guilt after a binge.
- Purging methods are not used.
- High blood pressure.
- High cholesterol levels.
- Heart disease as a result of elevated triglyceride levels.
- Secondary diabetes.
- Gallbladder disease.
- The prevalence of binge eating disorder in the general population is still being determined. Researchers estimate that approximately 25% of obese individuals suffer from frequent episodes of binge eating (Fairburn, 1998).
- Binge eating disorder affects women slightly more often than men. Estimates indicate that about 60% of people struggling with binge eating disorder are female, 40% are male (NIH, 1993).
- People who struggle with binge eating disorder can be of normal or heavier than average weight.
- Many people who suffer from binge eating disorder have a history of depression (NIH, 1993).
- People struggling with binge eating disorder often express distress, shame, and guilt over their eating behaviors.
- Binge eating disorder often results in some of the health risks associated with clinical obesity.