5 Warning Signs of Binge Eating Disorder

September 2015, Vol 3, No 9 - Inside Mental Health
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Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States, affecting 3.5% of women, 2% of men, and ≤1.6% of adolescents. It is characterized by recurring episodes of consuming large amounts of food quickly and to the point of discomfort. If you are concerned about the eating habits of a loved one, the following signs may provide more information about whether they may have binge eating disorder:

  1. Abnormal Eating Habits
    A telltale sign of binge eating disorder is a recurring disruption of normal eating behaviors at least once a week for 3 months, including eating large quantities of food in a short amount of time and a lack of control during the eating episode.
  2. Emotional Patterns Before, After You Binge
    Emotional characteristics associated with binge eating disorder are feelings of disgust for one’s own body size, as well as anger, anxiety, or worthlessness prior to a binge. In addition, people struggling with binge eating disorder often express distress, shame, and guilt for their eating behaviors.
  3. Fluctuating Weight
    Not everyone who is overweight is partial to binges, and although weight gain is not necessarily associated with binge eating disorder, body weights of people with binge eating disorder can vary from normal to mild, moderate, or severe obesity.
  4. Eating When Not Hungry
    People with binge eating disorder will often eat large amounts of food despite the fact that they are not physically hungry.
  5. Sleep Disruptions and Aches
    Potential health consequences of binge eating disorder include fatigue, joint pain, and sleep apnea. People who are obese and who have binge eating disorder also run a higher risk for high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

Seek advice from a medical provider if you feel that you or someone under your care has an eating disorder.

  1. National Eating Disorders Association. Binge eating disorder. www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/binge-eating-disorder. Accessed August 13, 2015.
  2. National Institute of Mental Health. Eating Disorders. www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/eating-disorders/index.shtml. Accessed August 13, 2015.
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