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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, fast, or excessively exercise to compensate for binges. Additionally, these individuals tend to diet more often, enroll in weight-control programs and have a history of family obesity.  However, many who have bulimia also have binge-eating disorder.