Binge eating disorder is characterized by the consumption of large amounts of food with a feeling of loss of control (bingeing). 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.
People eat large amounts rapidly, do not purge, and are very distressed by their behavior.
Doctors base the diagnosis on people’s description of their behavior.
Weight-loss programs and some weight-loss drugs may help control weight, cognitive-behavioral therapy may help control the binges, and a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (a type of antidepressant) may do both.
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 programs, 30% or more of obese people have the disorder.
Most people with binge eating disorder are overweight or obese, and the disorder contributes to their consumption of excessive calories. In contrast, most people with bulimia nervosa have a normal weight, and most people with anorexia nervosa are thin. People with binge eating disorder are older than those with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, and nearly half are men.