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Binge-eating disorder (BED)

2-minute read

If someone eats larger amounts of food than other people, even after they feel full, this may indicate they have binge-eating disorder.

What is binge-eating disorder?

People with binge-eating disorder or BED often eat larger amounts of food than most people and feel they have lost control of their eating.

While binge-eating disorder is similar to bulimia nervosa, it is not the same. A person with bulimia nervosa will use extreme measures to lose weight, such as:

  • vomiting
  • laxatives
  • excessive exercise.

But people with BED don’t take these extreme measures to compensate for their overeating. Many people with BED are overweight or obese.

What causes binge-eating disorder?

Some people have no obvious reason for having binge-eating disorder. Some will have low self-esteem; others will have a family history of eating disorders. Genes probably play a part. Others will have experienced childhood abuse or trauma.

Binge-eating disorder is also linked to:

Binge-eating disorder symptoms

Many people with binge-eating disorder are overweight or obese and are concerned about body image.

People with binge-eating disorder might:

  • eat for comfort
  • eat rapidly during a binge
  • eat when they are not hungry
  • eat alone because they are embarrassed
  • feel guilty after an eating binge.

Find out more about binge-eating disorder symptoms on the National Eating Disorders Collaboration website.

Binge-eating disorder diagnosis

Diagnosis of a binge-eating disorder requires assessment by a psychologist or psychiatrist.

Treatment of binge-eating disorder

The best treatment for binge-eating disorder is long-term psychological therapy. Exercise and managing stress are also important to recovery.

Where to get help

If you, or someone you know, thinks they might have binge-eating disorder, contact the following organisations for support, information and counselling:

Last reviewed: July 2017

Need more information?

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