Binge Eating Disorder {BED}: Symptoms, Signs, Statistics and Triggers Revealed.

Binge Eating Disorder {BED}: Symptoms, Signs, Statistics and Triggers Revealed.

Binge eating is the most common food disorder in the United States.

The Diagnostic Features:

  • Was formally recognized as an eating disorder in 2013 with the release of DSM-V.
  • Patient must consume, over a discrete period of time, for example 2 hours, an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat during a similar period during similar circumstances.
  • The episode must be accompanied by a sense of loss of control, such as having a feeling that one cannot stop eating or control how much one is eating.
  • These episodes must occur at least once weekly over a period of at least three months.
  • The disorder is associated with several additional characteristics:
    • Eating much more rapidly than normal
    • Consuming large amounts of food even when not particularly hungry
    • Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
    • Eating alone due to feeling embarrassed and disgusted with themselves and depressed or guilty about overeating
    • Patients feel marked distress, yet fail to engage in any of the behaviors typical of anorexia or bulimia (i.e. over-exercising, vomiting, abusing laxatives)


  • BED is the MOST common eating disorder in the United States. It is estimated to be twice as prevalent as both anorexia and bulimia combined.
  • BED occurs in both men and women.
  • BED is observed across all racial and ethnic groups in the United States.
  • In an online survey, only 3.2% of patients who met the criteria for BED reported receiving the diagnosis from a healthcare provider.
  • BED can occur in normal weight, overweight or obese adults or adolescents.


  • 79% of patients with BED have at least one other psychiatric
  • 65% were also diagnosed with anxiety disorders
  • 46% were diagnosed with mood disorders
  • 43% were also diagnosed with an impulse-control disorder
  • 23% were also diagnosed with a substance use disorder
  • BED is also associated with several other medical comorbidities such as severe obesity, an increased risk of diabetes and/or hypertension and several different pain conditions.
  • Although it is not a formal diagnostic criterion, body image concerns frequently go unrecognized. These individuals tend to judge themselves and their worth primarily based on their weight and shape.
  • Patients with BED frequently experience the negative stereotypes associated with both having a psychiatric disorder and being overweight. This, in turn, frequently makes the patient even less likely to disclose their struggles with either their healthcare provide or a loved one.

Common Triggers:

  • Negative emotions and feelings of helplessness
  • Interpersonal stressors
  • The results of one of the many strict diet regimens that are promoted
  • Feeling bored, upset, or alone
  • Feeling badly in general about one’s body weight, shape, and food.

Help is available. If you are upset or embarrassed about your binge eating, you are not alone. Even though BED is the most common eating disorder, most people find it extremely difficult to talk about. However, healthcare professionals are used to being asked for referrals. If you try to mention your concerns to your provider and you don’t feel heard, please don’t be afraid to ask for a referral to someone who specializes in binge eating disorder. Remember, if you don’t bring your concerns up, you may never get the help you need.

Please feel free to reach out with questions to 919-636-5240 or you can chat online, and write us an email. CPCH is here to help you in your recovery to optimal health.

Dr. Nicola Gray,
Cognitive Psychiatry of Chapel Hill

Available Resources:
Alliance for Eating Disorder Awareness
Binge Eating Disorder Association
National Eating Disorders Association

On February 27rd, our current electronic health system will transition to a new and advanced system to better serve you: Athena. Prior to the transition date, you will be sent a registration link to create a new patient account in Athena. If you have any immediate questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your therapist, or call our office to speak to a staff member.