Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is the most common eating disorder in the United States, with 2.8 million individuals struggling to combat it. This raises the question of is there hope for Binge Eating Disorder recovery?
However, it wasn’t until about 2013 that this disorder got the attention it required. It was at this time that BED was included as an official diagnosis in the DSM-5. This inclusion to the DSM-5 increased research about the disorder as well as accessibility to treatment.
Since this time, more studies are being conducted and information being compiled regarding the symptomatology of BED, who tend to be most at risk, and most effective treatment methods.
All of this information provides us with insight which can help to reduce these statistics and support BED recovery.
Symptoms of BED
BED is known to be characterized by regular eating episodes where an individual eats more than the average individual would in a single sitting. These episodes, known as “binges,” must occur at least once a week and be accompanied by a feeling of loss of control to fulfill criteria for a BED diagnosis .
Individuals struggling with BED have also been found to commonly report feelings of shame or guilt surrounding their eating behaviors.
These individuals may also often hide their food or their eating habits from their loved ones.
It is important to point out that, just like anorexia or bulimia, BED is, most often, not about weight.
These behaviors often act as an adaptive function that the individual engaged in to cope with a negative emotion or life challenge .
Who is at Risk?
This disorder affects 3 times as many people as Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa combined and is more common than breast cancer, HIV, and schizophrenia .
Studies show that individuals with a family history of BED, those diagnosed with a mental illness, or those that engage in dieting are more at risk to develop BED.
Additionally, women are more likely to struggle with BED, with 3.5% of American women struggling vs. 2% of men . The onset of BED behaviors most often occurs in an individual’s late teens or early twenties.
A common misconception is that people with BED are overweight. However, the truth is that “you don’t have to be overweight to have BED and being overweight doesn’t mean you have BED .”
Treatment and Hope for Binge Eating Disorder
Treatment recommendations for BED are similar to those of anorexia or bulimia, focusing on the benefits of an integrated treatment team that, at least, includes a therapist, nutritionist, and medical professional.
Treatment aims include helping the individual to cease binge-eating behaviors, identify and discuss the physical and emotional factors related to their BED behaviors, and support them in taking steps toward long-term recovery .
CBT is the most well-known form of evidence-based treatment for all eating disorders, and BED is no different. Research shows that individuals with BED respond to CBT more positively than those with anorexia or bulimia via reduction of disordered eating behaviors .
Perhaps the most hopeful statistic is that, while BED is the most common eating disorder in the United States, BED also shows a greater likelihood of remission than any other eating disorder .
The knowledge around BED is growing and, with it, increased opportunities for treatment and chances for recovery.
Resources: American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fifth edition. American Psychiatric Association. ISBN: 978-0-89042-554-1.  Pryor, T. (2018). Binge eating disorder recovery – it’s not about weight loss. National Eating Disorders Association.  Schaffer, J. (2019). Binge eating disorder statistics – know the facts. Healthline, retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/eating-disorders/binge-eating-disorder-statistics#1.
About the Author:
Margot Rittenhouse, MS, PLPC, NCC is a therapist who is passionate about providing mental health support to all in need and has worked with clients with substance abuse issues, eating disorders, domestic violence victims, and offenders, and severely mentally ill youth.
As a freelance writer for Eating Disorder Hope and Addiction Hope and a mentor with MentorConnect, Margot is a passionate eating disorder advocate, committed to de-stigmatizing these illnesses while showing support for those struggling through mentoring, writing, and volunteering. Margot has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Published September 27, 2019, on EatingDisorderHope.com
Reviewed & Approved on September 27, 2019, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC