Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

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 (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:

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:

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: July 2019

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Binge eating disorder

Unlike those with bulimia nervosa, a person with binge eating disorder will not use compensatory behaviours, such as self-induced vomiting or over-exercising after binge eating

Read more on NEDC - National Eating Disorders Collaboration website

What Is Binge Eating Disorder? | Eating Disorders Victoria

Eating Disorders Victoria provides information on what is binge eating disorder, warning signs, the physical effects, and treatment and recovery options.

Read more on Eating Disorders Victoria website

Binge eating disorder - Butterfly Foundation

The Butterfly Foundation represents all people affected by eating disorders and negative body image issues. Butterfly National Helpline 1800 ED HOPE provides free phone, email and web support and referral for individuals experiencing an eating disorder, carers and professionals.

Read more on Butterfly Foundation website

Binge eating disorder - Better Health Channel

Binge eating disorder is a serious mental health condition. It affects people of all ages and from all backgrounds, and is the most common eating disorder in Australia. You can recover from binge eating disorder with the right help and commitment.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Learn About Binge Eating Disorder | How Far Is Too Far?

BED (Binge Eating Disorder) is a psychological illness that was only recently officially recognised as an eating disorder

Read more on Eating Disorders Victoria website

What is binge eating disorder? | Eating disorders | ReachOut Australia

There are signs that indicate someone might have binge eating disorder, as well as a number of ways to get help.

Read more on website

Disordered Eating & Dieting

Disordered eating can include behaviours that reflect many but not all of the symptoms of feeding and eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder or other specified feeding and eating disorders (OSFED)

Read more on NEDC - National Eating Disorders Collaboration website

Eating Disorders in Australia

Eating disorders and disordered eating together are estimated to affect over 16% of the Australian population

Read more on NEDC - National Eating Disorders Collaboration website

What Is Bulimia Nervosa? | Eating Disorders Victoria

Eating Disorders Victoria provides information on bulimia nervosa, warning signs, the physical effects, and treatment and recovery options.

Read more on Eating Disorders Victoria website

Learn About Bulimia Nervosa | How Far Is Too Far?

Bulimia nervosa is a serious mental illness, not a lifestyle choice People with bulimia nervosa binge eat, then rid themselves of the extra calories by methods such as vomiting or over-exercising It can be hard to tell if someone has bulimia as they are often a normal weight and will go to great lengths to hide behaviours Most people with bulimia nervosa are treated outside of hospitalPeople with bulimia engage in repeated binge eating episodes followed by whats known as compensatory behaviours to get rid of the extra calories

Read more on Eating Disorders Victoria website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo