As part of this year’s series of posts for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDAwareness), I’d like to shed a little light on the epidemic of binge eating disorder, sometimes called compulsive overeating.
When the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) was released in 2013, it finally included binge eating disorder (BED) as a “real” eating disorder. In previous editions, BED was lumped in with other disordered eating in the “eating disorders not otherwise specified” category and had no concrete diagnostic criteria.
The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) summarizes the characteristics of this eating disorder as outlined in the DSM-V:
The key diagnostic features of BED are:
- Recurrent and persistent episodes of binge eating
- Binge eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following:
- Eating much more rapidly than normal
- Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
- Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry
- Eating alone because of being embarrassed by how much one is eating
- Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty after overeating
- Marked distress regarding binge eating
- Absence of regular compensatory behaviors (such as purging).
A prevalence of 3.5 percent of women, 2 percent of men and 1.6 percent of young people suffering from BED makes it the most common eating disorder in the country.
Far from being a simple problem with overeating or a “lack of willpower,” binge eating disorder involves complex emotions that include a feeling of shame towards one’s behavior, body or both.
The infographic below provides a great deal more information on this disorder.
If you think you may be suffering from BED or another eating disorder, take NEDA’s free screening. Just three minutes and a simple anonymous survey could save your life.