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Binge Eating: The Lesser Known Disorder

Did you know that binge eating has now become America's most common eating disorder, affecting one in 35 women, making it three times as common as anorexia nervosa? I honestly didn't know until I was watching CNN and saw the story of a young lady who suffered with binge eating.


Binge eating is a relatively unknown disorder since most people think that eating disorders are about not eating, rather than overeating. The reason it has been so unknown is because there seems to be a greater stigma attached to binge eating than to anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, so people are less likely to admit to the problem. Natalie, the woman featured on CNN, revealed that her binges would include: a sleeve of Ritz crackers with peanut butter, Triscuits, some cheese from the refrigerator, maybe some cream cheese straight out of the carton, maybe some mayonnaise right out of the jar. Natalie, like others with this disorder, experience a food high and addiction like you would from a drug. Binge eaters keep their eating a secret and some avoid weight gain by exercising excessively.

Why is it bad: The major complications of binge eating disorder are the diseases that could accompany obesity (Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, gallbladder disease, heart disease and certain types of cancer). Furthermore, people with binge eating disorder can be extremely distressed by their binge eating. Some people miss work, school, or social activities to binge eat. Obese people with binge eating disorder often feel bad about themselves, are preoccupied with their appearance, which can lead to avoiding social gatherings. Like most eating disorders, binge eaters try to hide their problem so that close family members and friends don't know what they are doing behind closed doors.

Binge eating is more than pigging out on pizza on a Friday night, a binge has two main components. One is eating an abnormally large amount of food in a short period of time and the other is having a sense of loss of control of the eating. Worried that you or someone you know may be a binge eater? Take the quiz on Overeaters Anonymous.

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