Binge eating disorder (BED) is an eating disorder where a person has recurrent episodes of binge eating. During these episodes, the individual eats a large amount of food quickly and feels a lack of control over this eating. BED is different from bulimia in that people with binge eating disorder do not engage in purging behaviour (such as throwing up or overuse of laxatives) to try to get rid of the calories they have consumed. Having binge eating disorder can cause significant impairment in a person’s work life, personal life, and social life.
Until 2013, the diagnosis “eating disorder not otherwise specified” (EDNOS) encompassed all eating disorders that did not meet the criteria for anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. Binge eating disorder was previously grouped together with other eating disorders in the EDNOS category, but is now recognized as its own separate condition.
According to the World Health Organization Mental Health Survey, binge eating disorder affects approximately 8 in every 1000 people globally. Women are more affected by BED than men: females have a 3.5% chance of developing BED in their lifetime, while males have a lifetime chance of 2.0%. Binge eating disorder affects people of all ages, races, ethnicities, and socio-economic statuses. In adults, the median age for onset of BED is about 23 years. It can affect children as young as 10 years old, and there is an increasing recognition that it affects people in middle age as well. Binge eating disorder is distinct from obesity and overeating. It is important to note that BED affects people who are normal weight as well as overweight.