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What Is Binge Eating Disorder?

by Babs ‘O’ Reilly
(Miami Beach, Florida, USA)

Carolyn Costin says that “the term binge eating disorder (BED) was officially introduced in 1992 at an International Eating Disorders Conference. The term is used to describe people who binge eat but do not fast or purge to lose weight.

A person who binges is one who is referred as compulsive eater, emotional overeater or food addict. Binge eaters suffer from debilitating patterns of eating to self-sooth.

This, when done on a regular basis produces weight gain and obesity. Binge eating was first studied by Dr. Albert Stunkard of the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1950’s.

Additional studies were made in the 1980’s. Then in 1992, the term was adopted at the International Eating Disorders Conference.

Some professionals subcategorizes binge eating into two: one is deprivation-sensitive binge eating which appears to be result of weight loss or periods of restrictive eating and the other is addictive or dissociative binge eating which is the practice of self-meditating or self-soothing with food unrelated to prior restricting. Binge eaters feel numbness, dissociation, calmness, and regaining of inner equilibrium.

The Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-IV listed the following criteria for binge eating disorder:

1. Recurrent episodes of binge eating like eating in a discrete period of time – amount of food is larger than most people would eat in a similar period of time in similar situation.

2. Lack of control over eating. A person feels he or she cannot stop eating or control what or how much he or she is eating.

3. Manifests three or more of the following: eating much more rapidly than normal, eating until feeling uncomfortably full, eating large amounts of food though not feeling physically hungry, eating alone to avoid embarrassment/deny how much he or she is eating, feeling disgusted with oneself, and depressed or very guilty after overeating.

4. The binge eating happens at least two days a week for six months.

There is a common misconception that all people with binge eating disorder are also overweight. Being overweight or obese is not enough to qualify a person to have binge eating disorder.

There are various causes for obesity. The Oxford English Dictionary helps explain the difference between simple overeating from binge eating: the term binge refers to “a heavy drinking bout, hence a spree.”

The Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary also says that the word binge applies to anything where there is “an unrestrained or excessive indulgence.”

Thus, binge eating disorder is when a person binged food in a discrete period of time with the person having the trouble to stop or control the behavior.

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Updated: April 17, 2013 — 2:09 am

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