Binge eating is an eating disorder where a person feels compelled to overeat on a regular basis.
People who binge eat consume very large quantities of food over a short period of time and they often eat even when they are not hungry. Binges are often planned and can involve the person buying "special binge foods".
Binge eating usually takes place in private with the person feeling that they have no control over their eating. They will often have feelings of guilt or disgust after binge eating. These feelings highlight underlying psychological issues, such as depression or anxiety.
Depression and anxiety may be both a cause and an effect of binge eating.
Signs and symptoms
Weight gain is the main symptom of binge eating. Many people with the disorder are already overweight. If you are carrying too much weight you are vulnerable to other health problems that are associated with obesity. These include:
- high cholesterol – high levels of cholesterol in your blood increases your risk of heart disease and stroke
- high blood pressure (hypertension) – this also increases your risk of cardiovascular conditions such as stroke or heart disease
- diabetes – a chronic (long-term) condition caused by too much glucose (sugar) in the blood
- asthma – where the lung airways become inflamed
- osteoarthritis – a condition that causes pain and swelling in the joints
- chronic back pain
- heart disease – where the heart’s blood supply is blocked by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries (the main blood vessels of the heart)
Binge eating is a treatable condition, and a number of different treatment options are available. Treatments can include self-help programmes and psychological therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
How can I get help?
Getting help starts with talking to your GP or contact your local NHS service. Information about the services available in your area can be found in the right hand menu.
For more information about binge eating visit NHS Choices.