Elevated Status for Binge Eating Disorder in the DSM-5

Lady binge eating is please about the Elevated Status for BEDFor those working in the field of behavioral health, the “go-to” book for definitions of the various mental illnesses is The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

The current version, DSM-IV, was released in 1994 and the updated manual is slated for release in May of 2013.

Several changes will affect the eating disorder community. The term NOS or not otherwise specified will be eliminated from the DSM-5; therefore, the diagnosis of ED-NOS will no longer be utilized.

Conversely, binge eating disorder (BED) will be elevated to a distinct category of an eating disorder. In the previous manual, BED appeared in the appendix, but the elevated status for BED is considerable.

By placing it in that location, the formulators of the DSM-IV were sending a message to the behavioral health community indicating the need for more research in this particular area.

Evidently, that message was received, and in the 20 years since the publication of DSM-IV, there have been more than 1,000 papers published on BED, which provided a strong basis for the argument that it was appropriate for inclusion in the updated manual.

For a diagnosis of BED, the food and eating-related behavior occurs on average at least once a week for three months and is not associated with the recurrent use of inappropriate compensatory behavior (such as purging).  The behavior is marked by “a sense of lack of control over eating during the episode” and is 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 feeling embarrassed by how much one is eating, and/or feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty afterward.

This DSM-5 alteration has two distinct benefits for those suffering from BED.

First, this status change, in effect, provides greater legitimacy to the disorder. It will hopefully result in greater awareness and improved diagnosis.

Second, the elevated status for BED will offer the opportunity for sufferers to receive the treatment they need with the benefit of insurance coverage.

Currently, insurance is only extended if specific criteria are met, which definitely creates a roadblock to treatment for many men and women.


Author of Article is Dr. Kimberly Dennis, Former CEO/Medical Director Emeritus at Timberline Knolls.

Article Contributed by our Sponsor ~ Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center


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 August 12, 2012, on EatingDisorderHope.com
Reviewed & Updated on July 22, 2019, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC