Binge eating disorder
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Binge eating disorder (BED) is the most common eating disorder in the United States affecting 3.5% of females and 2% of males and is prevalent in up to 30% of those seeking weight loss treatment. Although it is not yet classified as a separate eating disorder, it was first described in 1959 by psychiatrist and researcher Albert Stunkard as "Night Eating Syndrome" (NES), and the term "Binge Eating Disorder" was coined to describe the same binging-type eating behavior without the exclusive nocturnal component. BED usually leads to obesity although it can occur in normal weight individuals. There may be a genetic inheritance factor involved in BED independent of other obesity risks and there is also a higher incidence of psychiatric comorbidity, with the percentage of individuals with BED and an Axis I comorbid psychiatric disorder being 78.9% and for those with subclinical BED, 63.6%.
Both of the following must be present to classify as Binge Eating Disorder.
- Eating, in a discrete period of time (e.g., within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances
- Feels loss of control over eating during binge. In other words, they feel that they cannot stop eating and they cannot control what they are eating and how much they are eating.
Also, an individual must have 3 or more of the following symptoms:
- Eats an unusually large amount of food at one time, far more than a regular person would eat.
- Eats much more quickly during binge episodes than during normal eating episodes.
- Eats until physically uncomfortable and nauseated due to the amount of food consumed.
- Eats when depressed or bored.
- Eats large amounts of food even when not really hungry.
- Often eats alone during periods of normal eating, owing to feelings of embarrassment about food.
- Feels disgusted, depressed, or guilty after binge eating.
- The binge eating occurs, on average, at least twice a week for 6 months.
- The binge eating is not associated with the recurrent use of inappropriate compensatory behavior and does not occur exclusively during the course Bulimia Nervosa or Anorexia Nervosa.
Relationship to other eating disorders 
Binge eating symptoms are also present in bulimia nervosa. The formal diagnosis criteria differ, however, in that subjects must binge at least twice per week for a minimum period of three months for bulimia nervosa and a minimum of 6 months for BED. Unlike in bulimia, those with BED do not purge, fast or engage in strenuous exercise after binge eating. Additionally, bulimics are typically of normal weight, are underweight but have been overweight before, or are somewhat overweight. Those with BED are more likely to be obese.
Binge eating disorder is similar to, but distinct from, compulsive overeating. Those with BED do not have a compulsion to overeat and do not spend a great deal of time fantasizing about food. On the contrary, some people with binge eating disorder have very negative feelings about food. As with other eating disorders, binge eating is an "expressive disorder"—a disorder that is an expression of deeper psychological problems. Some researchers believe BED is a milder form or subset of bulimia nervosa, while others argue that it is its own distinct disorder. Currently, the DSM-IV categorizes it under Eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS), an indication that more research is needed.
Occurrence and risk factors 
About two percent of all adults in the United States (as many as four million people) have binge eating disorder. About ten to fifteen percent of people who are moderately obese and who try to lose weight on their own or through commercial weight-loss programs have binge eating disorder. The disorder is even more common in people who are severely obese.
Binge eating disorder is almost twice as common among women as among men, though the difference between genders is less pronounced than in other eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. The disorder is found in all cultures and ethnicities. People who are obese and have binge eating disorder often became overweight at an earlier age than those without the disorder. They might also lose and gain back weight more often, or be hypervigilant about gaining weight.
Other risk factors may include childhood obesity, critical comments about weight, low self-esteem, depression, and physical or sexual abuse in childhood.  A study in behavior genetics has also suggested that binge eating disorder may have a genetic component. It has been found that 20% of relatives of obese individuals with binge eating disorder also have binge eating disorder, compared to 9% of relatives of obese individuals without binge eating disorder.
While binge eaters are often believed to be lacking in self-control, the root of such behavior might instead be linked to rigid dieting practices. Binge eating may begin when individuals recover from an adoption of rigid eating habits. When under a strict diet that mimics the effects of starvation, the body may be preparing for a new type of behavior pattern, one that consumes a large amount of food in a relatively short period of time.
The relationship between strict dieting and later binging may explain the high numbers of people who become trapped in a cycle of dieting and weight gain, often reaching higher and higher weights after each round of dieting and binging. 
Dieting involves setting rules about what to eat and when. If those rules are occasionally broken, for example, by eating a food you are not allowed or eating more than you should, some people think that their diet is ruined. As a consequence, they eat all they want and plan to start their diet again the next day. Negative emotions are also common causes of binge eating.
While people of a healthy weight may overeat occasionally, an ongoing habit of consuming large amounts of food in a short period of time ultimately leads to weight gain and obesity. The main health consequences of this type of eating disorder is brought on by the weight gain resulting from the binging episodes.
People with binge eating disorder may become ill due to a lack of proper nutrition. Binging episodes usually include foods that are high in fat, sugar, and/or salt, but low in vitamins and minerals. Individuals are often upset about their binge eating and may become depressed. Those who are obese and also have BED are at risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), high blood cholesterol levels (hypercholesterolemia), gallbladder disease, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.
Most people with binge eating disorder have tried to control it on their own, but have not been able to for very long. Some people miss work, school, or social activities to binge eat. Obese people with BED often have very low self-esteem and may avoid social gatherings. Those who binge eat, whether obese or not, are aware of their disordered eating patterns, and try to hide their disorder out of shame. Often they become so adept at hiding it that even close friends and family members are unaware that they binge eat.
People with binge eating disorder, whether or not they want to lose weight, should seek help from health professionals including physicians, nutritionists, psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers or by attending 12-step Overeaters Anonymous meetings. Even those who are not overweight are usually upset by their binge eating, and treatment can help them.
Although mental health professionals may be attuned to the signs of binge eating disorders, many physicians do not raise the question, often because they are uninformed about the specifics of the condition. Because it is not a recognized psychiatric disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, it is difficult to obtain insurance reimbursement for treatments. BED will be included in the DSM V as an eating disorder in its own right, instead of as part of the EDNOS category as in the DSM IV.
There are several different ways to treat binge eating disorder. Cognitive-behavioral therapy teaches people how to keep track of their eating and change their unhealthy eating habits. It also teaches them how to change the way they act in difficult situations. Interpersonal psychotherapy helps people to look at their relationships with friends and family and make changes in problem areas. Drug therapy, such as antidepressants, may be helpful for some people. Wellbutrin is an atypical antidepressant that has anorexia as a side effect and does not decrease libido like other antidepressant medications.
Researchers are still trying to find the treatment that is the most helpful in controlling binge eating disorder. The methods mentioned here seem to be equally helpful. For people who are overweight, a weight-loss program to improve health and to build self-esteem, as well as counselling to pinpoint the root of the psychological problems triggering their binge episodes, may be the best choice.
See also 
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- Cooper, Z; Fairburn, CG (2003). "Refining the definition of binge eating disorder and nonpurging bulimia nervosa". The International Journal of Eating Disorders. 34 Suppl: S89–95. doi:10.1002/eat.10208. PMID 12900989.
- Hudson, JI; Lalonde, JK; Berry, JM; Pindyck, LJ; Bulik, CM; Crow, SJ; McElroy, SL; Laird, NM et al. (2006). "Binge-eating disorder as a distinct familial phenotype in obese individuals". Archives of General Psychiatry 63 (3): 313–9. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.63.3.313. PMID 16520437.
- De Zwaan, M; Friederich, HC (2006). "Binge eating disorder". Therapeutische Umschau. Revue therapeutique 63 (8): 529–33. doi:10.1024/0040-59220.127.116.119. PMID 16941397.
- United States Department of Health and Human Services - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2007-07-10). "Eating Disorders". Retrieved 2007-07-10.
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- 07/05/2011. "Binge Eating may be Caused by Rigidity in Dieting" http://www.treatmentcenters.net/eating-disorders/binge-eating-caused-by-rigid-dieting/
- 6 September 2010 "What is binge eating disorder?" http://au.reachout.com/find/articles/binge-eating-disorder
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- Binge Eating Disorder at Medline Article
- National Institute of Health page on binge eating disorder