FORUM: Binge Eating: Connecticut's Most Common, Yet Misunderstood Eating Disorder?

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT), July 9, 2017 | Go to article overview

FORUM: Binge Eating: Connecticut's Most Common, Yet Misunderstood Eating Disorder?


Ask local residents what they think is the most common eating disorder, and chances are the majority won't provide the correct answer. While anorexia and bulimia are conditions most associated with eating disorders, binge eating disorder is actually the most prevalent, affecting approximately 4.2 million American women and 2.3 million men, many right here in Southern and Coastal Connecticut.

Despite its widespread prevalence, binge eating disorder is a highly misunderstood condition. While the mental health field has been studying and treating binge eating disorder for decades, it only made its way into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a formal diagnosis in 2013. Additionally, many of those personally impacted may not even be aware of the condition or associated symptoms, and many times, fail to seek adequate treatment.

The reality is that binge eating disorder affects those of all genders, of every ethnicity, racial background, sexual orientation, socio-economic strata and age group. We see it occurring most often in adults, specifically mid-20s and older, but it can transcend into adolescence and young adulthood. Chances are that binge eating disorder touches your family, friends or even yourself personally. To help you better understand the condition - and learn where to turn when needed - let's take a closer look at it.

First off, binge eating disorder is often confused with terms like overeating and emotional eating. While there are some parallels, the behavior in binge eating disorder is more distinct. Individuals consume abnormally large amounts of food over a short period of time, at least once a week (sometimes many more) and often in secret. It may start as an intense craving or urge to eat, but eventually lead to feelings of being "zoned out" with an extreme loss of control. Sometimes one might eat to the point feeling physically uncomfortable or in pain. What's even more important is what happens next -- those with binge eating disorder experience intense feelings of guilt, embarrassment or depression after a binge episode.

This pattern can have a significant effect on relationships, work productivity, sleep and overall quality of life.

A combination of factors can contribute to the onset and maintenance of binge eating disorder. Affected individuals often report a history of attempts to lose weight via restrictive diets, or in some cases, yo-yo weight cycling (repetitive periods of weight loss followed by weight gain). …

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