Binge Eating Disorder

Eating Disorders Northern Ireland

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Beat Eating Disorders

Binge Eating Disorder – know the signs

Any binge eating is a problem managing food.  You may be able to address the problem yourself.  You may need some support from a dietitian.  But when does the problem need more professional help?

Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder.  It will be formally diagnosed by a specialist eating disorders service, who will use the following criteria to assist the diagnosis.

If you suspect you have binge eating disorder, see your GP who will refer you to appropriate services for diagnosis and treatment.

Criterion 1

Recurrent episodes of binge eating characterised by both of the following:

  1. Eating, in a discrete period of time (eg within any 2 hr 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 (eg a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control what or how much one is eating).

Criterion 2

Binge-eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following:

  • Eating much more rapidly than normal
  • Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
  • Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry
  • Eating alone because of being embarrassed by how much one is eating
  • Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty after overeating

Criterion 3

Marked distress regarding binge eating is present.

Criterion 4

Binge eating occurs, on average, at least 1 day a week for 3 months.

Criterion 5

Binge eating is not associated with regular use of inappropriate compensatory behaviour (eg purging, fasting, excessive exercise) and does not occur exclusively during the course of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.

Severity grading

Mild BED: 1-3 binge episodes / week
Moderate BED: 4-7 binge episodes / week
Severe BED: 8-13 binge episodes / week
Extreme BED: ≥ 14 binge episodes / week

(Reference – American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Pub; 2013)

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