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Binge eating disorder (BED)

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) has defined Binge Eating Disorder (BED) as a diagnostic entity (1):

  • characterized by recurrent loss of control over the amount and mode of eating and incurring psychological expenses secondary to overeating

BED is denied by some as a "legitimate" psychiatric disorder (2):

  • postulate that it is a form of a risky but still normal behavior
  • aslo argue that overeating, as well as obesity, most frequently coexists with or even results from other psychiatric problems, such as anxiety and depression (2)

Diagnostic criteria for Binge Eating Disorder (BED) according to DSM-5

A. Recurrent episodes of binge eating (same as bulimia nervosa)

B. Binge eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following:

  • 1. Eating much more rapidly than normal;
  • 2. Eating until feeling uncomfortably full;
  • 3. Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry;
  • 4. Eating alone because of embarrassment;
  • 5. Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty after overeating.

C. Marked distress related to binge eating is present.

D. At least once a week for 3 months.

E. Binge eating is not associated with recurrent use of inappropriate compensatory behavior.

BED is strongly correlated with obesity

  • estimated that from 15.7% to as much as 40% of obese patients suffer from BED (3,4)
  • between 1.12% and 6.6% of general population have BED (5,6)


  • 1) Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Washington: American Psychiatric Association; 2013.
  • 2). Flaskerud JH. Fat studies, binge eating, obesity and health or illness. Issues Ment. Health Nurs. 2010; 31(7): 491-493.
  • 3) Gormally J, Black S, Daston S, Rardin, D. The assessment of binge eating severity among obese persons. Addict. Behav. 1982; 7(1): 47-55.
  • 4) Mitchell JE, King WC, Courcoulas A, Dakin G, Elder K. et al. Eating behavior and eating disorders in adults before bariatric surgery. Int. J. Eat. Disord. 2015; 48(2): 215-222.
  • 5) Grucza RA, Przybeck TR, Cloninger CR. Prevalence and correlates of binge eating disorder in a community sample. Compr. Psychiatry 2007; 48(2): 124-131.
  • 6) Preti A, Girolamo Gd, Vilagut G, Alonso J, Graaf Rd, Bruffaerts R. et al. The epidemiology of eating disorders in six European countries: results of the ESEMeD-WMH project. J. Psychiatr. Res. 2009; 43(14): 1125-1132

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