Binge Eating Disorder is the most common eating disorder in the United States and is prevalent in up to 30% of those seeking weight loss surgery. Its prevalence in the population at large is eight percent. It can involve exclusive night eating or nocturnal eating for some patients, but not all, and is more common in women than men. Binge eating generaly leads to obesity and can have a genetic component. Childhood obesity can be a risk factor for binge eating as the habits develop early in life. Usually the foods eaten are considered “comfort” foods, meaning that the person eats to adress an emotional issue instead of a dietary need. It is important to note that bingeing episodes can actually lead to a lack of proper nutrition; many of the “comfort” foods involved in binging can be high in fat, sugar, and/or salt, but low in vitamins and minerals.
Signs of binge eating disorder may include: Loss of control when eating, eating large amounts of food and quickly, eating when depressed, lonely or bored and experiencing shame after binge eating. Currently, the DSM-IV (Psychiatric Manual) categorizes it under Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. It is included as a diagnostic category for further study in DSM IV to have more specific diagnostic criteria.
Treatment options include: psychotherapy, overeaters anonymous meetings and other support modalities. Supportive and cognitive behavioral therapy can be very helpful. Therapy in particular helps people identify their feelings and behaviors towards food. Developing alternatives to stop emotional overeating is key to success. Examples include: Exercise, reaching out to friends for support, recreational games, reading, listening to music and various other hobbies.
A few simple tips to stop overeating:
For many patients who are obese weight loss surgery can be a viable option to help. Bariatric surgery is effective in producing weight loss and abstinence in severely obese binge eating disorder, significant reductions in binge eating usually occur after obesity surgery in patients. In one study, binge eating was eliminated in all of 22 patients classified presurgically as binge eaters at a four months after surgery.