Binge eating disorder is one of the most common eating disorders in the United States. Individuals with this disorder experience reoccurring episodes of binge eating. After the binge episode these individuals make no effort to “make up” for the binge episode through exercise, purging or inappropriate use of medications or laxatives. This pattern often results in obesity; about 65% of people with this disorder are obese.

How common is Binge Eating Disorder?

Research has shown that about 2% of men and 3.5% of women are affected by this disorder. It typically begins during the teenage years into early adulthood.

What are the symptoms?

Individuals with this disorder have symptoms similar to those of bulimia, which is the binge eating subtype of anorexia. Typically they consume large amounts of food in a short period of time. During these episodes the individual often feels like they are out of control. Other signs / symptoms include:

  • eating large amounts of foods rapidly, in secret and until uncomfortably full, in the absence of hunger
  • feeling out of control during episodes of binge eating
  • negative feelings of distress, shame, disgust, or guilt, when thinking about the binge eating behavior
  • no use of purging behaviors, such as calorie restriction, vomiting, excessive exercise, or laxative or diuretic use, to compensate for the binging

People with binge eating disorder are more likely to be overweight or suffer from obesity. This can increase their risk of medical complications such as heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.


Medications combined with Psychotherapy can help to reduce the amount and number of binge episodes. Psychotherapy is a prime component of treatment of the emotional problems associated with binge eating disorder. Dialectical Behavior Therapy has been shown to be an effective approach to treating binge eating disorder.