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Binge Eating Hurts Men More Than Women

Update Date: Sep 18, 2013 08:00 PM EDT
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Binge eating is more harmful for men, a new study suggests.

While binge eating affects both men and women, obese men who overeat are more likely than women who do the same to have elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Researchers said that men have been underrepresented in of obesity and binge eating disorder research. Binge eating disorder is characterized by repeated consumption of large quantities of food in a short period of time without some other compensatory activity like vomiting. People who suffer binge eating disorder often report feeling of loss of control over their eating habits.

"People used to think binge eating was less common in men than women," said lead researcher Tomoko Udo, Ph.D., an associate research scientist at Yale University, said, according to Health Behavior News Service.

The latest study involved 141 women and 49 men. The participants were seeking treatment for obesity and binge eating disorder in a primary care setting. Even after accounting for race and body mass index, researchers found that men were three times as likely to meet the criteria for metabolic syndrome, a condition that increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Researchers found few psychological differences between men and women with the eating disorder. However, they noted that women were significantly more likely to become overweight and attempt dieting earlier than men.  However, men were more likely to say that they engaged in strenuous physical activity in an attempt to lose weight.

"This study is important because it focused on real-world data collection in the primary care setting," Martin Binks, Ph.D., associate professor of nutritional sciences at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX, and a spokesperson for The Obesity Society told Health Behavior News Service. He noted that culture issues might mean that some men will not be properly diagnosed.

"It is considered manly to consume big portions," he explained.

In light of the latest findings, researchers said that primary care setting should implement interventions or provide appropriate specialist referrals for obese patients with binge eating disorder. They said that many primary doctors do not understand that people who binge might also have underlying psychological issues.

"Many doctors do not know the special needs of binge eaters," Udo noted.

"We tend to have a 'one size fits all' view of weight management," Binks said. "But [binge eaters] are qualifiably different than your average person who needs to lose weight," he noted.

The findings are published in the journal General Hospital Psychiatry.

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