binge eating facts

Imagine: It’s Friday night. Traditionally, that means it is date night for you and your significant other.

You both decide that since you have been so dedicated and consistent with your nutrition and exercise plan, that you deserve a night out where all diet rules go out the window. It’s time for a well-deserved grub down on your favorite meal at your favorite restaurant – and don’t forget dessert, of course.

Afterward, you decide to see that movie that just came out that you have been really wanting to see. It’s a few hours long, so drinks and snacks are a must.

When you get home after that night of indulgence, you might feel uncomfortably full – which is expected. However many calories you ate doesn’t matter though, because it was a special occasion and rarely ever done.

This type of situation happens regularly and does not have any cause for alarm. For those suffering from Binge Eating Disorder (BED) however, nights like this one happen far more often and are very concerning.

What is Binge Eating Disorder (BED)?

Sometimes referred to as emotional eating, compulsive overeating, or food addiction, BED is the most common eating disorder among Americans today. This disorder was only classified as an official eating disorder by the American Psychiatric Association in 2013.

Prior to that, it fell under the umbrella of Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS). Binge Eating Disorder has been compared to bulimia in that they share the same symptoms of bingeing, but BED does not have the purging or compensatory behaviors after the binge.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) characterizes BED as frequent (at least once per week for three months) binge eating episodes where more food is consumed than what normally would be in that circumstance and time frame. It also states that there is a feeling of loss of control over food consumption and extreme shame or guilt afterward.

BED does not look the same for everyone. It can manifest as eating very rapidly, eating when not hungry, eating beyond the point of feeling full, and eating in secrecy. Some claim that the urges to binge “sneak up on them.”

What also contributes to BED as an eating disorder are the feelings of guilt, self-hatred, regret, and deep shame after an episode.  

Here are 7 shocking statistics you didn’t know about Binge Eating Disorder:

1. About 2.8 million American adults suffer from BED at some point in their life. It affects three times the number of people with anorexia and bulimia combined, according to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA). 

2. The Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA) states that approximately 3.5% of women, 2% of men, and 30-40% of those seeking weight loss treatments can be clinically diagnosed with BED. 

3. Roughly half of the risk associated with BED is genetic.

4. Around half of BED patients have a comorbid mood disorder or comorbid anxiety disorders.

5. BED may be as high as 25-30% in post-bariatric patients. 

6. 70% of those with BED are obese.

7. Approximately 43% of those suffering from BED will receive treatment for it.