A new study shows that 3 percent of Americans are classified as having a binge eating problem, or disorder. It is typical for those with BED to gorge on food, at least twice a week, despite feeling disgusted with themselves, until they are beyond full and can’t eat anymore.
Most typical binge eaters report feeling a loss of control, as though they can’t stop eating. And they do it over and over again, even though they wish they could stop. It’s common for them to binge eat for emotional reasons, such as being angry or upset, but one scoop of ice cream becomes a craving for more and more until the refrigerator is empty.
BED is more common than anorexia and bulimia, which both affect about 1 percent of women and 0.3 percent of men in America. BED isn’t officially recognized as a psychiatric disorder, but it has much in common with bulimia, where women binge on food and then force themselves to vomit. Although people with BED don’t purge, they usually eat to “stuff” their feelings, like bulimics.
As for what causes binge eating disorder, it can have a strong genetic link, but a lot of it is wrapped up in American culture – everywhere we see billboards, neon signs, and commercials that encourage us to eat, eat, eat. Some people are naturally more sensitive to this than others. However, it is treatable with drugs like Topamax or Meridia that suppress the urge to binge. Cognitive and behavioral therapy also helps. If you think this sounds like you, then don’t hesitate to mention it to your doctor.