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5 Facts That Will Help You Understand Binge Eating Disorder

Update Date: Oct 27, 2020 05:48 PM EDT
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5 Facts That Will Help You Understand Binge Eating Disorder
(Photo : pixabay)

Binge eating disorder is among the most important and yet misunderstood mental health disorders in the world. It is surprisingly common and can have dangerous health consequences if left untreated, like obesity, heart disease, sleep apnea, and many others. Even beyond the health risks, experts at eating disorder recovery centers have noted the emotional distress that comes with the disorder can disrupt a person's life in a variety of ways. The guide should help you understand just what binge eating disorder is and how it can affect a person's life.

Here are five facts about binge eating disorder you may not have known.

1. Binge eating disorder doesn't see race or color

Although reported cases of binge eating disorder are slightly higher among white women, it's thought that it's also underreported among people of color. This perpetuates the false idea that eating disorders only affect white women, and that attitude does a real disservice to the millions of people of color who share a strong need for eating disorder recovery assistance. Understanding how binge eating disorder touches far more races and ethnicities than the common perception may suggest will hopefully help more people of color receive a correct diagnosis and get help.

2. Binge eating disorder and dieting are usually linked

Binge eating disorder is defined by repeated episodes in which a person eats a large amount of food in a short period, usually beyond the point of feeling sated. This often results in the individual gaining weight, which brings on a sense of shame about their eating habits. They'll then publicly go on a series of diets so that other people think they are trying to lose weight - this continues the shame cycle. In almost every case of binge eating disorder, the individual struggles with a negative body image and their weight.In a way, the cycle of controlling what is eaten and then losing that control is an encapsulation of binge eating disorder.

3. Binge eating disorder affects men almost as much as women

Although it's a fact that eating disorders like bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa affect women more frequently than they do men, eating disorders are more common in men than most people think. It is almost a cliché that eating disorder treatment is only for women. Unlike most forms of eating disorders, however, BED affects men almost as often as women.

According to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA),as much as  40 percent of the total cases of binge eating disorder occur in men, making it many times more common in men than anorexia or bulimia nervosa are.There are some social stigmas about discussing eating and body image in men, even to this day, that lead many men suffering from BED to avoid seeking help or even admitting a problem. However, the many health risks that are associated with BED and obesity can cut short men's lives as easily as women's, so families must be aware of how common this disorder is in men.

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

In the same study that NEDA performed that confirmed the high incidence of binge eating disorder in men, it was found 3.5 percent of women and 2.0 percent of men experience binge eating disorder at some point in their lives. That makes it more than three times as common as bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa combined, despite those disorders being more well-known in general. 

Those percentages make binge eating disorder one of the largest health concerns facing Americans, despite the fact that many people don't understand how common and dangerous it is. BED has a higher incidence than HIV or schizophrenia, or even breast cancer. With continued efforts from the psychological and eating disorder recovery communities, we can hope that public awareness of this common disorder is raised, and this national health concern can be better addressed.

5. BED was only officially recognized by the psychiatric community recently

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), which is the official listing of mental health, behavioral, and psychiatric disorders, has listed bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa for decades. And yet, binge eating disorder, despite being the most common eating disorder, was only added to the DSM-V in 2013.

By gaining official recognition in the DSM-V, binge eating disorder is more likely to be recognized by family practitioners, family and child psychologists, and other medical professionals. Hopefully, as it gains more prominence among mental health and medical professionals after being added to the manual, more people will be able to get the eating disorder treatment they need to overcome binge eating disorder.

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