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Characteristics of Binge Eating Disorder

Binge Eating Disorder, also called compulsive overeating, is a common eating disorder that is becoming more widely discussed in the medical literature. Although not yet recognized as a formal diagnosis in the DSM, most health professionals currently agree that binge eating is a relatively widespread problem It is likely that the DSM will include this disorder in the next edition of the manual.

It is estimated that 2% of adults have binge eating disorder, or approximately 1 to 2 million Americans. Binge eating is more common among obese people and among adults who have experienced yo-yo dieting (a repeated cycle of weight loss followed by weight gain). Binge eating is also more common in women; three women are affected for every two men. Research indicates that people from different ethnic and racial backgrounds are affected equally.

Binge Eating Disorder is characterized by periods of eating large quantities of food in a short amount of time, often in isolation, due to embarrassment. Many individuals who binge eat very rapidly until they are uncomfortably full. Associated with these frequent binges are intense feelings of being out of control and powerless to stop eating, as well as disgust, shame and depression. However, unlike individuals with bulimia, binge eaters do not engage in compensatory behaviors, such as vomiting, exercising or misusing laxatives and diuretics. While this ultimately makes them physically healthier than their bulimic peers, they often gain weight as a result of high-calorie food consumption.

Health Complications

People with Binge Eating Disorder often suffer from health complications due to being overweight. They may have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gallbladder disease, heart disease, respiratory problems, menstrual irregularities, bone and joint deterioration, arthritis, and certain types of cancer.

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