About Eating Disorders
What is Binge Eating Disorder?
Binge eating disorder is characterized by recurrent binge eating episodes that are accompanied by marked distress, a sense of lack of control, and feelings of self-loathing, disgust, or guilt. These episodes involve eating, in a discrete period of time, an amount of food that is objectively larger than what most individuals would eat in a similar period of time, under similar circumstances. Binge eating episodes are associated with eating much more rapidly than normal and/or until uncomfortably full; eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry; and/or eating alone due to embarrassment about the amount one is eating. Unlike bulimia nervosa, these binge episodes are not followed by compensatory behaviors.
What Causes Binge Eating Disorder?
Like all eating disorders, binge eating disorder develops over a period of time as a result of a complicated blend of genetic, biological, and environmental factors. There is no single cause to point to and, despite common misconceptions, families and communities of support are not to blame. In fact, they are often recovery’s strongest ally. Many individuals have genetic predispositions to binge eating disorder that, depending on environmental influences, may or may not be awakened over the course of their lifetime. Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States and the most prevalent eating disorder among males. The mean age of onset for the disorder is 18 years and the vast majority of individuals who are diagnosed with binge eating disorder also struggle with psychiatric, mood, or anxiety disorders, and/or impulse control and substance use.
- Malnutrition-induced changes in physiological processes and altered hunger and fullness signals
- Experiencing a traumatic event
- Genetic predisposition and societal pressures (e.g., drive for thinness)
- Lack of environmental control and persistent, extreme stress, or minority stress
Risks of Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorder can have extreme medical and physiological consequences that may or may not resolve completely during recovery.
- Chronic pain including headaches, back, and neck pain
- Diabetes and hypertension
- In males: decreased frequency of erections and nocturnal emissions
- In females: polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometrial cancer, and difficulty conceiving