Facts Everyone Should Know About Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorder (BED) isn’t a joke. We all laugh and say how we “binged” when we ate too much at Thanksgiving or had a few too many pieces of pizza, but for the 8.5 million Americans who live with the disorder it is no laughing matter.
Binge eating disorder isn’t indulging in too much ice cream from time to time. People who live with BED compulsively consume large amounts of food in short periods of time. It is a consistent, and often frightening experience that can be painful, embarrassing, and very difficult to confront within one’s self.
For those who don’t personally live with binge eating disorder, it can be difficult to comprehend what it means. To help explain the reality of BED, here are some scientific facts about binge eating disorder from The Stir:
- Binge Eating Disorder is the most common eating disorder. Anorexia and bulimia get much of the attention, but it is binge eating disorder that affects more men and women of all ages in the US.
- BED doesn’t strike when most eating disorder do. Most cases of anorexia and bulimia appear during teen or adolescent years, but binge eating often surfaces later. For women, binge eating is most likely to start in early adulthood, while midlife is the most common time for the disorder to appear in men.
- The cause of BED isn’t understood. Researchers believe much of the cause of binge eating disorder lies in brain chemistry, but they are not sure the specific cause. There is also evidence genetics and history of traumatic experiences may play a role, but their significance is uncertain.
- Overindulging once doesn’t mean you have a problem. Binge eating disorder is characterized by overeating a least once a week for three months. You don’t have to worry just because you went overboard recently.
- Purging isn’t necessarily involved in binge eating. Some with binge eating disorder may use purging or exercise as a means of getting rid of the calories they’ve taken in, but the majority of people with BED don’t routinely purge.
- People with BED may not look like you think. Athletes are known for their toned bodies and strict food intake, but studies show professional athletes are also at significant risk for developing BED.
- Binge eating disorder can be life threatening. People with BED are at high risk for serious health issues such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, depression, anxiety, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
- Some personality types are at higher risk for BED. People who binge eat tend to show a strong need to be in control, have difficulty expressing feeling, and exhibit tendencies for perfectionism.
- Binging isn’t about hunger. Instead, binge eating tends to act as a way to relieve stress and suppress negative feelings. Many who binge eat report feeling angry, anxious, or ashamed shortly before a binge episode.
- Medication may help treat BED. Recent studies suggest a drug called Vyvanse may help suppress the desire to binge eat, but it is unclear how effective it is in the long term. Additionally, seeing as emotions are a central factor in the disorder, the best treatment still involves personal counseling with a professional.