Binge eating disorder is three times more common than both anorexia and bulimia combined, affecting more women than men.
Health experts say binge eating is not just a phase or mood, but an issue that needs to be addressed.
“Eating disorders represent complex mental health conditions,” says Dr. Amy Khan, Executive Medical Director for Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah.
Khan says people seem to recognize anorexia and bulimia, but binge eating disorder is much more common.
“These eating disorders are serious illnesses that can affect physical, emotional, and social functioning. In addition, eating disorders affect cardiovascular health, cause gastrointestinal issues, are often linked with obesity and can impact neurological as well as metabolic function.”
A 2020 survey showed an increase in eating disorders and worsening symptoms through the pandemic - 30 percent with bulimia nervosa. Binge eating disorder also reported increased episodes.
The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) reported that helpline calls have also increased by 40 percent since March of last year.
“It's a misconception that people can choose abnormal behavior related to eating or perhaps they are going through a phase. That's just not true. And this is not a moral failing,” says Khan.
She says increased stress and anxiety can contribute to the condition, along with family history or excessive dieting in the past.
Khan explains that those hose with binge eating disorder oftentimes, “Eat a large amount of food within two hours, at least weekly, for three months. They’re also individuals who exhibit a lack of control and are often eating more rapidly than normal, to the point where they're feeling uncomfortable. Oftentimes people with binge eating disorder are also eating large amounts of food when they're not hungry.”
If you or someone you love is dealing with binge eating or other eating disorders, virtual interventions and visits with an eating disorder specialist, support group, or physician are all helpful resources.
If you need immediate assistance, you can reach the National Eating Disorder Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.