Binge Eating Disorder: Fact vs. Myth Module

Fact or Myth

1 2 3

Eating disorders only affect people of a certain age group and gender.

Binge eating disorder (BED) is not a real medical condition.

Binge eating disorder (BED) could be associated with serious health consequences.

< Previous

This is a myth

This is a fact.

Although certain groups - such as adolescents - are at higher risk, eating disorders can affect anyone. Men and women of all ages, ethnicities, and socio-economic statuses can be affected by eating disorders. Binge eating disorder (BED) is a type of eating disorder. Although BED is more common in women, one third of those affected are male*. For men, BED is also the most common eating disorder. The median age of onset for BED is 23, but affects those middle-aged as well.
*Based on a 12-month BED prevalence calculation of 0.8% for males and 1.6% for females.

BED is a real medical condition and is recognized by the medical community as the most common, and yet underdiagnosed, eating disorder. Nearly 3 million US adults are affected by BED. A person with BED experiences repeated episodes of binge eating on average at least once a week for 3 months where she or he eats a larger amount of food than what most people would eat in a similar time and feels a loss of control over eating during the episode. Afterwards, they may feel guilt, shame, or embarrassment, and may become depressed. BED is different from bulimia nervosa, another type of eating disorder, in that one does not use strategies such as fasting, self-induced vomiting, or excessive exercise to lose the calories after the binge eating episode. People with BED tend to suffer in silence and internalize their struggle. Talk to your health care provider about BED.

BED tends to be a chronic condition, and may be associated with co-existing conditions such as mental illnesses and obesity. The most common co-existing mental health conditions in people with BED are anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders. Binge eating disorder may or may not be associated with being currently overweight or obese which in turn can contribute to increased risks for medical conditions such as diabetes. It is important to note that BED is not the same as obesity.
There is widespread stigma toward people with BED, and as a result people who have it may feel socially isolated and may be less likely to look for help. Survey results show that physicians rarely assess for eating disorders. Taking the first steps may be difficult, but a support system can help you recover and cope. Your support system can include resources such as health care professionals, patient organizations, and eating disorder centres.