The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Health & Fitness

February 23, 2013

Speaking of Health: Understanding and overcoming binge-eating disorder

Sometimes we push our waistbands to the limit — especially during holidays or other special events. But when you lose control of your eating habits on a regular basis and find yourself ashamed and embarrassed, there may be a serious underlying condition.

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, binge-eating disorder occurs in 3 to 5 percent of women and 2 percent of men in the United States. This means it has become more common than anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

Understanding binge-eating disorder and finding ways to cope with it can make a difference in your life or the life of a loved one.


Q: What is binge-eating disorder?

A: Binge-eating disorder is a severe eating disorder in which you frequently consume large amounts of food. This usually occurs in secret and results in great personal shame. This condition usually becomes a compulsive act that turns into an uncontrollable habit.

Many people with binge-eating disorder are overweight and unhappy with their body image.


Q: What are some symptoms of binge-eating disorder?

A: Again, everyone overeats occasionally, but when your cravings and compulsions become insatiable, binge-eating disorder could be the cause.

Some symptoms to watch for include:

  • Eating excessive amounts of food
  • Eating when you feel full or don’t have an appetite
  • Eating at a rapid pace during a binge episode
  • Eating alone on a regular basis
  • Experiencing disgust, depression, guilt or shame about your eating habits
  • Feeling like your eating habits are uncontrollable


Q: What are the risk factors for binge-eating disorder?

A: Although the cause of binge-eating disorder is unknown, there are multiple risk factors that may increase the likelihood of developing the condition.

These risk factors include:

  • Family history. Individuals whose family members have or have had an eating disorder are at a higher risk for developing a disorder themselves.
  • Psychological issues. Many people with binge-eating disorder have a history of depression or other psychological issues.
  • Diet. People with binge-eating disorder often have dieted in the past — sometimes excessively.
  • Age. Binge-eating disorder can strike at any age, but it typically appears in your teens or early 20s.

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