Eating Disorders Home > Compulsive Eating Disorder

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

What Is Compulsive Eating Disorder?

Compulsive eating disorder is more commonly referred to as binge eating disorder, and this article uses the two names interchangeably.
Most of us overeat from time to time, and some of us often feel that we have eaten more than we should. However, eating a lot of food does not necessarily mean that you have compulsive eating disorder.
Experts generally agree that most people with serious compulsive eating problems often eat an unusually large amount of food and feel their eating is out of control. People with compulsive 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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