Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is an eating disorder characterised by the repeated consumption of unusually large amounts of food (binge eating) with a feeling of loss of control during and after the binge.

Binge eating is not followed by attempts to compensate for the excess food eaten – for example, by ridding the body of the excess food consumed (purging).

Binge eating disorder is more common among people who are overweight or obese.

Individuals eat large amounts of food rapidly, do not purge, and are very distressed by their behaviour.

Medical professionals base the diagnosis on the individual’s description of their behaviour.

Treatment aims to help the individual control binge eating and includes:

  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT);
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI, a type of antidepressant); and
  • Stimulant drugs.

Weight-loss programmes, some weight-loss drugs, and stimulant drugs may help control weight.

Overall, about 3.5% of women and 2% of men have binge eating disorder. But the disorder becomes more common with increasing body weight.

In some weight reduction programmes, 30% or more of obese people have the disorder.

Most individuals with binge eating disorder are overweight or obese, and the disorder contributes to their consumption of excessive calories.

In contrast, most individuals with bulimia nervosa have a normal weight, and individuals with anorexia nervosa are thin.

Individuals with binge eating disorder are older than those with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, and nearly half are men.

Did You Know?

Nearly half of the individuals with binge eating disorder are men.

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