Binge eating is a pattern of disordered eating. It affects more people in the US than anorexia or bulimia nervosa. Though eating disorders are generally associated with women, nearly 40% of people with binge eating disorder are men. Binge eating was traditionally viewed as a symptom of other eating disorders. It is now recognized as a true disorder that is now part of the recently published DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).
Like other eating disorders, it has both psychological and social components. Men with this disorder struggle with the urge to binge, then feel shame after a bingeing incident. This can become a vicious cycle that increases binges and leads to unhealthy weight gain and obesity. The good news is there are treatments available.
Binge eating disorder is a loss of control over your eating. It is different than eating associated with normal weight gain. People with this disorder have an unhealthy connection to eating that leads to compulsive behavior. During a binge the amount of food eaten is larger than most people would consume in a similar amount of time. The excess amount of food is often eaten in less than 2 hours. In addition to binge eating, people with this disorder will experience some of the following:
The bingeing may occur at any time of day or night. It is a cycle of eating, shame, and despair. Bingeing often becomes secretive which may make it difficult for family and friends to recognize that there is a problem.
There are many factors associated with the development of a binge eating disorder. It is usually a combination genetics, environment, and other factors. Here are some common characteristics found in people with binge eating disorder:
It is not clear if these factors lead to an eating disorder or are caused by the disorder, but they are often present together.
Men with symptoms of binge eating disorder need to seek treatment as soon as possible. Early treatment can minimize the amount of weight gain and perhaps prevent obesity. Binge eating disorder is treatable and may include one or more the following:
People with binge eating disorder can also be treated with:
Binge eating disorder is a complicated problem that can go on for years. If you feel you or a loved one needs help, contact your doctor and get started on treatment plan.
National Eating Disorders Organization
Mental Health Canada
National Eating Disorders Information Centre (NEDIC)
Males and eating disorders. National Eating Disorders website. Available at: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/binge-eating-disorder-males. Accessed October 21, 2014.
Binge eating disorder. National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders website. Available at: http://www.anad.org/get-information/about-eating-disorders/binge-eating-disorder. Accessed October 21, 2014.
Binge eating. Weight-control Information Network website. Available at http://www.win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/binge.htm. Updated December 2012. Accessed October 21, 2014.
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Last reviewed October 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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