Eating Disorders

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Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are characterized by a persistent pattern of dysfunctional eating or dieting behavior. About 10 percent of women report symptoms of an eating disorder and any given time. Sometimes, it can be difficult to distinguish between normal differences in eating patterns and actual eating disorders. Here, we provide a basic overview of eating disorders, their treatment and associated issues.

Binge Eating Disorder

What it is

People with binge eating disorder often eat an unusually large amount of food and feel out of control during the binges. People with binge eating disorder also may:

    * eat more quickly than usual during binge episodes
    * eat until they are uncomfortably full
    * eat when they are not hungry
    * eat alone because of embarrassment
    * feel disgusted, depressed, or guilty after overeating


No one knows for sure what causes binge eating disorder. Researchers are looking at the following factors that may affect binge eating:

  • Depression. As many as half of all people with binge eating disorder are depressed or have been depressed in the past.
  • Dieting. Some people binge after skipping meals, not eating enough food each day, or avoiding certain kinds of food.
  • Coping skills. Studies suggest that people with binge eating may have trouble handling some of their emotions. Many people who are binge eaters say that being angry, sad, bored, worried, or stressed can cause them to binge eat.
  • Biology. Researchers are looking into how brain chemicals and metabolism (the way the body uses calories) affect binge eating disorder. Research also suggests that genes may be involved in binge eating, since the disorder often occurs in several members of the same family.


Certain behaviors and emotional problems are more common in people with binge eating disorder. These include abusing alcohol, acting quickly without thinking (impulsive behavior), and not feeling in charge of themselves.

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