Eating Disorders Home > Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is characterized by episodes in which a person eats excessive amounts of food -- even when not hungry. This is the most common eating disorder, and often occurs in people who are overweight or obese. The exact causes of this disorder aren't known. People who engage in binge eating are at risk for developing other conditions, such as heart disease and high blood pressure.

What Is Binge Eating Disorder?

Most of us overeat from time to time, and some of us often feel that we have eaten more than we should. Eating a lot of food, however, does not necessarily mean that you have binge eating disorder.
Experts generally agree that most people with serious binge eating problems often eat an unusually large amount of food and feel their eating is out of control. People with binge eating disorder also may:
  • Eat much more quickly than usual during binge episodes
  • Eat until they are uncomfortably full
  • Eat large amounts of food even when they are not really hungry
  • Eat alone because they are embarrassed about the amount of food they eat
  • Feel disgusted, depressed, or guilty after overeating.
Binge eating also occurs in another eating disorder called bulimia nervosa. People with bulimia nervosa, however, usually purge, fast, or do strenuous exercise after they binge. Purging means vomiting or using excessive diuretics (water pills) or laxatives to keep from gaining weight.
Fasting is not eating for at least 24 hours. Strenuous exercise, in this case, means exercising for more than an hour just to keep from gaining weight after binge eating. Purging, fasting, and overexercising are dangerous ways to try to control your weight.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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