Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorder is probably the most common eating disorder. Most people with this problem are either overweight or obese, but normal-weight people also can have the disorder.
About 2 percent of all adults in the United States (as many as 4 million Americans) have binge eating disorder. About 10 percent to 15 percent of people who are mildly obese and who try to lose weight on their own or through commercial weight loss programs have binge eating disorder. The disorder is even more common in people who are severely obese.
Binge eating disorder is a little more common in women than in men; three women for every two men have it. The disorder affects blacks as often as whites. How often it affects people in other ethnic groups is not known.
People who are obese and have binge eating disorder often became overweight at a younger age than those without the disorder. They might also lose and gain back weight (yo-yo dieting) more often.
No one knows for sure what causes binge eating disorder. As many as half of all people with the condition are depressed or have been depressed in the past. Whether depression causes binge eating disorder or whether the disorder causes depression is not known.
It is also unclear if dieting and binge eating are related. Some people binge after dieting. Dieting here means skipping meals, not eating enough food each day, or avoiding certain kinds of food. These are unhealthy ways to try to change your body shape and weight.
Studies suggest that people with binge eating disorder may have trouble handling some of their emotions. Many people with the condition say that being angry, sad, bored, worried, or stressed can cause them to binge.
Certain behaviors and emotional problems are more common in people with binge eating disorder. These include:
- Abusing alcohol
- Acting quickly without thinking (impulsive behavior)
- Not feeling in charge of themselves
- Not feeling a part of their communities
- Not noticing and talking about their feelings.
Researchers are looking into how brain chemicals and metabolism (the way the body uses calories) affect binge eating disorder. Other research suggests that genes may be involved, since the disorder often occurs in several members of the same family. This research is still in its early stages.