Awareness Campaign Turns Spotlight On Binge Eating Disorder

By Paul Gaita 02/19/15

A new campaign hopes to bring attention to an eating disorder that remains largely unknown to the public.

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A new awareness campaign hopes to bring attention to an eating disorder that affects an estimated four million American women and men but remains largely unknown to the general public.

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is defined as an inability to control the consumption of significantly larger amounts of food in a short period of time than most individuals would consume under similar circumstances. These binges, which typically occur at least once a week for a period of three or more months, are often accompanied by feelings of guilt, disgust or embarrassment, and frequently take place in solitary situations.

The condition affects men and women of all races and body types, and typically begins to manifest itself at 21 years of age, which is markedly later than other eating disorders. Despite the number of individuals who are affected by BED, the condition was only recently approved for inclusion in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), and remains less well known to the public than other eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia.

The pharmaceutical company Shire, which manufactures Vyvanse, an ADHD drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat BED, hopes to change that status with a national awareness campaign, which features tennis great Monica Seles as its paid spokesperson.

Seles, who wrote about her struggles with BED in her autobiography Getting a Grip: On My Body, My Mind, Myself, is featured in several public service announcements about the condition, which can be viewed on the campaign’s website.

The campaign is also sponsored by two nonprofit organizations, the National Eating Disorders Association and the Binge Eating Disorder Association, which are promoting awareness on their respective websites.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.