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Binge eating is a pattern of disordered eating which consists of episodes of uncontrollable eating. It is sometimes a symptom of binge eating disorder or compulsive overeating disorder. During such binges, a person rapidly consumes an excessive amount of food. Most people who have eating binges try to hide this behavior from others, and often feel ashamed about being overweight or depressed about their overeating. Although people who do not have any eating disorder may occasionally experience episodes of overeating, frequent binge eating is often a symptom of an eating disorder.
About one in five young women report that they have had binge-eating symptoms, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Women account for about 60% of binge-eating disorder symptoms.
Binge-eating disorder, as the name implies, is characterized by uncontrollable, excessive eating, followed by feelings of shame and guilt. Unlike those with bulimia, those with binge-eating disorder symptoms typically do not purge their food. However, many who have bulimia also have binge-eating disorder.
Binge-eaters may use food to fill an emotional void by overeating to cope with life's challenges and with their emotional insecurities. In reality, their overeating causes guilt, shame and disgust. Frequently, they are overweight and typically suffer from low self-esteem. Binge eating is very common mostly with teenagers.