Frequently asked questions about binge eating disorder
What is binge eating disorder?
Individuals with binge eating disorder experience frequent "eating binges" where they consume large quantities of food over a short period of time, often with a feeling of loss of control over their eating. The eating binges may occur even when they do not feel physically hungry and may continue until they feel uncomfortably full. Individuals often binge eat surreptitiously because they are embarrassed by how much they are eating and typically they feel guilty or self-critical after the binge has occurred.
How common is binge eating disorder?
Binge eating disorder afflicts 3.5 percent of women and 2 percent of men at some point in their lives. (Hudson et al., 2006).1
Who is at risk of having binge eating disorder?
Research indicates that there is a genetic component to binge eating disorder. Family members of obese individuals with binge eating disorder were themselves twice as likely to suffer from binge eating disorder as were family members of obese individuals who did not have a history of binge eating. (Hudson et al., 2006).2
What are the health consequences of binge eating disorder?
The health risks of binge eating disorder are most commonly associated with clinical obesity. Some potential health consequences include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Diabetes (Type II)
What are the treatments for binge eating disorder?
Binge eating disorder is a treatable disease. Treatment options for binge eating disorder include:
- Psychological treatments: cognitive behavioral therapy, which teaches individuals to keep track of their eating and change their unhealthy eating habits; and interpersonal psychotherapy, which helps individuals look at their relationships with friends and family.
- Medications: Several medications have been reported to be effective for binge eating disorder, including sibutramine, topiramate, zonisamide, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (citalopram, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, and sertraline). No medications, however, have been approved by the FDA for the treatment of binge eating disorder.
1 Hudson, J., Hiripi, E., Pope, H., Kessler, R. (2006) Prevalence and Correlates of Eating Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Biological Psychiatry.
2 Hudson, J., Lalonde, J., Berry, J., Pindyck, L., Builk, C., Crow, S., McElroy, S., Lair, N., Tsuang, M., Walsh, B., Rosenthal, N., Pope, H. (2006) Binge Eating Disorder as Distinct Familial Phenotype in Obese Individuals. Archives of General Psychiatry 63:313-319.
The National Eating Disorders Association and the National Institutes of Health.