What is Binge Eating Disorder

what is binge eating disordersWhat is Binge Eating?

Binge eating is characterized by eating a large amount of food on a regular basis. Oftentimes, this is done in secret due to feelings of guilt and shame over the behavior. When people binge eat, they feel out of control of what is happening, regardless of the amount of the binge.

Binge eating disorder was only officially recognized as a mental health disorder this year by the American Psychiatric Association. 


What is Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge eating disorder (BED) is by far the most prevalent eating disorder, affecting nearly 3% of the general public and 30% of obese individuals seeking weight loss.

The features of binge eating disorder are:


A. Recurrent episodes of binge eating. An episode of binge eating is characterized by both of the following:

  1. Eating, in a discrete period of time (for example, within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances.
  2. A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode (for example, a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating).

Are you struggling with binge eating? Take our binge eating quiz and find out. 

B. The binge-eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following:

  1. Eating much more rapidly than normal
  2. Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
  3. Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry
  4. Eating alone because of feeling embarrassed by how much one is eating
  5. Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty afterwards


C. Marked distress regarding binge eating.


D. The binge eating occurs, on average, at least once a week for three months.


Definition of Binge Eating Disorder?

According to the American Psychiatric Association,


Binge Eating Disorder is characterized by recurring episodes of eating significantly more food in a short period of time than most people would eat under similar circumstances, with episodes marked by feelings of lack of control. Someone with binge eating disorder may eat too quickly, even when he or she is not hungry. This disorder is associated with marked distress and occurs, on average, at least once a week over three months.”


Binge Eating Disorder Facts

Here is a summary of facts presented by the National Eating Disorder Association on Binge Eating Disorder.


  • Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is the most common eating disorder, although 57% of people with BED never receive treatment
  • 2.8% of the US population suffers from Binge Eating Disorder at some point in their lifetime
  • 60% of people suffering with Binge Eating Disorder are female and 40% are male
  • Binge Eating Disorder is often associated with symptoms of depression
  • People struggling with Binge Eating Disorder can be in all shapes and sizes
  • Biological factors can contribute to development of Binge Eating Disorder
  • People who’ve dieted excessively are 12 times more likely to binge eat


The National Eating Disorder Association has prepared an infographic summarizing statistics about Binge Eating Disorder for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. You can view it here: Binge eating disorder.


The Binge Eating Scale

The Binge Eating Scale (BES) is a 16-item questionnaire assessing the presence of certain binge eating behaviors which may be indicative of an eating disorder.2,3 The BES is available for public use here.


The Binge Eating Scale may help you assess the presence of binge eating behaviors which may be indicative of an eating disorder.


Get Help for Binge Eating Disorder

If you or someone you know is struggling with Binge Eating Disorder, help is available. Our therapists in Houston specialize in binge eating disorder and can help you or your loved one recover. To get started now give us a call to schedule an appointment at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online. We look forward to help you!


Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP on Twitter
Rachel Eddins, M.Ed., LPC-S, CGP
Rachel’s passion is to help people discover their personal gifts and strengths to achieve self-acceptance, create a healthy relationship with food, mind and body, and find meaning and fulfillment in work and life roles. She helps people create nurturance and healing from within to restore balance and enoughness and overcome binge eating, emotional eating, anxiety, depression and lack of career fulfillment.

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