What is BED

What is BED?

Eating disorders are not fads, phases, or choices. They are very complex, serious mental illnesses. They are deadly. They have the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric disorders.

Binge eating disorder (BED) is the most common eating disorder in the United States. An estimated 3.5% of women, 2% of men, and 30% to 40% of those seeking weight loss treatments can be clinically diagnosed with binge eating disorder. The disorder impacts people of all races, levels of education, and income — including adults, children, and adolescents.

BED affects three times the number of those diagnosed with anorexia and bulimia combined. It is more prevalent than breast cancer, HIV, and schizophrenia. Those with BED are more likely to be of higher weight. But anyone at any weight can struggle with the disorder. BED often co-occurs with mood disorders and addictions.

Also called compulsive eating, emotional eating or overeating, binge eating disorder is characterized by recurring episodes of binge eating, feeling out of control while bingeing, and feeling guilt and shame afterward.

What BED is NOT

  • BED is not a choice
  • BED is not lack of willpower
  • BED does not indicate failure
  • BED is not overeating at a holiday meal or special occasion

BED is not obesity

While it is estimated 70% of those who suffer from BED are obese, not everyone who has BED is obese. The “cure” is not to lose weight. In fact, prescribing weight loss strategies further entrenches the disorder, causing intense shame and resulting in weight gain.

What is a binge?

A “binge” can vary widely in amount of food consumed and duration of time spent consuming it. While it might mean a considerable amount for some, it can mean a smaller amount for others. Regardless of the amount of food eaten, the person still feels out of control to stop, with distress following the episode.

Although those with binge eating disorder are more likely than average to be of higher weight, anyone at any weight may struggle with the disorder. For those at higher weights, the presence of cultural weight stigma and bullying experiences may contribute to a greater degree to the development of binge eating disorder, as well as co-occurring mood disorders and addictions.