Binge Eating Disorder

Binge-eating occurs in normal weight, overweight and obese individuals. It is reliably associated with overweight and obesity in treatment-seeking individuals. Nevertheless, binge-eating disorder is distinct from obesity. Most obese individuals do not engage in recurrent binge eating.

Twelve-month prevalence of binge-eating disorder among U.S. adult females and males is 1.6% and 0.8%, respectively. The gender ratio is far less skewed than in anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. Binge-eating disorder is as prevalent among females from racial or ethnic minorities as has been reported for white females. The disorder is more prevalent among individuals seeking weight-loss treatment than in the general population.

Risk and Prognostic Factors for Binge Eating Disorder

  • Genetic and physiological
    Binge eating disorder appears to run in families, which may reflect additive genetic influences

Diagnostic Criteria

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating at least once a month for 3 months. An episode of binge-eating is characterized by both of the following:
    • Eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g. within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than what most individuals would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances
    • A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (e.g. a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating)
  • The binge-eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following:
    • Eating more rapidly than normal.
    • Eating until feeling uncomfortably full.
    • Eating large amount of food when not physically hungry.
    • Eating alone because of feeling embarrassed by how much one is eating.
    • Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty afterward
    • Marked distress regarding binge eating is present.


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