Binge Eating Now Most Common Eating Disorder In US

By Beth Leipholtz 01/29/19

Binge eating disorder is more common than schizophrenia, HIV and breast cancer.

woman with binge eating disorder sitting in front of table full of food

Binge eating is now the most common of all eating disorders, despite the fact that it has only been recognized as a specified eating disorder since 2013. 

According to Cooking Light, there are three times more cases of binge eating disorder (BED) than there are of anorexia and bulimia combined. The Binge Eating Disorder Association notes that binge eating disorder is more common than schizophrenia, HIV and breast cancer. 

Binge eating, according to the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), is “a severe, life-threatening, and treatable eating disorder.” 

Some of the signs of BED include eating large amounts of food at least once weekly for three months or longer, a feeling of lack of control when eating, feelings of guilt or shame afterward, and using unhealthy methods such as purging afterward. 

“Binge eating disorders differ from bulimia, as binge eaters don’t always use exercise, laxatives, or other forms of purging to try to ‘erase the binge,’” Cooking Light reports. “Instead of falling into binge-purge cycles, those with a BED will most likely isolate themselves,  or even try to go to sleep, instead of attempting to fix the problem with harmful interventions.”

NEDA says a binge-eating episode includes three or more of these behaviors within two hours: eating faster than normal, eating to discomfort, eating large amounts of food even if not hungry, feeling out of control and lacking ability to stop, eating alone due to embarrassment and feeling shame or guilt afterward. 

Binge eating can happen any time of day. In some cases, it can be the result of restricting calories throughout the day, not addressing emotional and mental health problems, or can be done out of boredom. 

Chevese Turner, chief policy and strategy officer for NEDA, told Cooking Light that subjective binges are also something to be aware of. A subjective binge is when a person eats a normal amount of food but still battles feelings of being out of control or guilty. 

While about 70% of those with BED are overweight or obese, anyone can struggle with the eating disorder. Past research has shown that women who diet are about 12 times more likely to battle BED. Men who diet are also more likely to have it.

Additionally, those with mental health issues or substance use disorders may be at higher risk of developing BED.

Turner also tells Cooking Light that those with “a perfectionist or overachiever mentality” may be more likely to struggle with BED. 

There are a number of consequences of BED, including weight cycling, the body becoming insulin-resistant, and gastrointestinal problems. There is also a high risk of emotional trauma. 

One way to determine if you or a loved one is struggling with BED is by using NEDA’s screening tool. NEDA can also be reached at 1-800-931-2237.

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Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. By day she is a website designer, and in her spare time she enjoys writing about recovery at, doing graphic design and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs. Find Beth on LinkedInInstagram and Twitter.