Binge eating disorder is an illness where people overeat on a regular basis.
A binge is an episode of excessive eating or drinking. People who binge eat very large quantities of food over a short period of time, even when they're not hungry.
This page covers:
Signs of binge eating disorder include:
People who regularly eat this way are likely to have a binge eating disorder.
Binges are often planned in advance and the person may buy "special" binge foods.
Sometimes, a person will describe being in a "dazed state" during a binge – particularly binges at night – and not being able to remember what they ate.
The person often feels they have no control over their eating.
If you occasionally binge eat, it doesn't necessarily mean you have a binge eating disorder.
But see your GP if you binge regularly, particularly if it's affecting your physical and/or mental health. With the right treatment and support, most people get better.
Beat is a UK-based charity that provides help and support for people with eating disorders. You can contact them either by phone or email:
Both helplines are open every day of the year from 4pm to 10pm.
You can also find out more about Beat's support services.
The main treatments for binge eating are:
Read more about treating binge eating disorder.
It's not clear what causes binge eating, but, like most eating disorders, it's seen as a way of coping with feelings of unhappiness and low self-esteem.
Factors that may increase your risk of binge eating include:
Binge eating can sometimes develop following a strict diet, particularly if you skipped meals, cut out certain foods and didn't eat enough food. These are unhealthy ways to lose weight and may mean you're more likely to binge at another time.
Anyone can be affected by binge eating disorder, although it's slightly more common in women than men.
Binge eating disorder tends to first develop during early adulthood, but many people don't seek help until they're in their 30s or 40s.
It's estimated that you have a 1 in 30 to 1 in 50 chance of developing binge eating disorder at some point in life.
Weight gain is a common physical effect of binge eating, which can lead to obesity. Being obese puts you at risk of getting a number of serious physical health problems, including: