Eating Disorders Home > Binge Eating

Binge eating disorder is characterized by episodes in which a person eats excessive amounts of food, even when not hungry. Occasionally eating more than you should is not the same as having this disorder. The exact causes of the disorder aren't known, but may be linked to biology and a lack of coping skills. People who engage in it are at risk for developing other conditions, such as heart disease and high blood pressure.

What Is Binge Eating?

Most of us overeat from time to time, and some of us often feel that we have eaten more than we should have. However, eating a lot of food 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 out of control during the binges. People with binge eating disorder also may:
 
  • Eat more quickly than usual during binge episodes
  • Eat until they are uncomfortably full
  • Eat when they are not hungry
  • Eat alone because of embarrassment
  • Feel disgusted, depressed, or guilty after overeating.
     

Causes of Binge Eating

No one knows for sure what causes binge eating disorder. Researchers are looking at the following factors that may affect binge eating.
 
Depression
As many as half of all people with binge eating disorder are depressed or have been depressed in the past.
 
Dieting
Some people binge after skipping meals, not eating enough food each day, or avoiding certain kinds of food.
 
Coping Skills
Studies suggest that people with binge eating disorder may have trouble handling some of their emotions. Many people who are binge eaters say that being angry, sad, bored, worried, or stressed can cause them to binge eat.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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