It's Time to Talk about Binge Eating Disorder

January 12, 2011 Holly Gray

When I think of eating disorders I think of anorexia and bulimia. I think of starvation and compulsive exercising. I've heard of binge eating disorder (BED), but binge eaters aren't forefront in my mind when I hear the words "eating disorder." Watching our video interview with Chevese Turner, founder and president of the Binge Eating Disorder Association and our guest on the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show, I discovered that my ideas about eating disorders are sorely out of balance.

cheveewebversionBinge Eating Disorder Is More Prevalent than Anorexia or Bulimia

I suspect I'm not alone in my ignorance about the prevalence of binge eating disorder. Many binge eaters suffer in silence, unaware of the millions who also struggle with the symptoms of binge eating disorder. Chevese Turner started the Binge Eating Disorder Association when she realized just how many people it affects.

I was searching the Internet and came across a study from Harvard that reported 3.5% of women and 1.5% of men in the US had BED.

Binge eating accounts for the largest group of those affected by eating disorders. In fact, it makes up three times the number of anorexics and bulimics combined.

Why Aren't We Talking about Binge Eating Disorder?

It stands to reason that a disorder affecting an estimated 9 to 15 million individuals would get plenty of attention. But when it comes to eating disorders, anorexia and bulimia are the headliners. My guess is there are a lot of reasons for that, including:

  • Time. Binge eating disorder is still the new kid on the block, so to speak. It's a relatively recent diagnosis, compared with anorexia in particular which was first considered a disease in the late 19th century.
  • Misconceptions. Because most binge eaters don't look the way we expect the eating disordered to - underweight and malnourished - their plight often goes unnoticed.
  • Shame. Mental illness and shame are old bedfellows, and binge eating disorder isn't breaking the mold there. Ashamed of binge eating, many people keep it a secret.

No matter the reasons for all the silence, binge eating disorder affects too many people to stay hidden. Says Chevese:

Millions of individuals suffer in silence, because they do not realize that they have an eating disorder. Those who are overweight or obese are told they are fat and are dually battling weight bias. Others suffer inside a “normal” weight body .... It is time to talk about binge eating disorder and bring help and hope to those who need it. Please join me.

Video on Binge Eating Disorder

Watch Chevese Turner discuss binge eating disorder and her own experiences with binge eating in our binge eating disorder video interview with her.

You can find all mental health video interviews from the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show in the table of contents.

Share Your Binge Eating Disorder Experiences

Have you been diagnosed with binge eating disorder? We invite you to call us at 1-888-883-8045 and share your experiences and insights. (Info on Sharing Your Mental Health Experiences here.) You can also leave comments below.

APA Reference
Gray, H. (2011, January 12). It's Time to Talk about Binge Eating Disorder, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 29 from

Author: Holly Gray

January, 20 2011 at 4:58 pm

thanks for highlighting BED. I am 46 and have dealt with anorexia (< 99#) and learned to drink protein shakes when it was impossible to swallow or develop an appetite. It took a toll on my heart and scared me to think of leaving my 3 children motherless. In the last 6 years or so binge eating crept into my life without me realizing its stronghold. I guess I would couple it with bulemia when the binging hurts so bad and I cant contain the food any longer. Otherwise, I dont vomit. I have researched what little there is on the topic and saw that it can be fatal if the stomach is pushed beyond its breaking point. I have worried I have been close to that point. It doesnt matter what I shove down, I am looking for the pain and discomfort before I will stop. In fact, I have often reported that I would eat paper if it accomplished the sensation. I am miserable after, physically and emotionally. Most often it happens at night and usually with desolate feelings or self-loathing/isolation. Please offer more insight. Thank you!

January, 20 2011 at 1:06 pm

Food and I have a love hate relationship. I have had eating disorders from Anorexia to bullimia to Binge eating. I am embarrassed to talk about the binge eating because I am overweight. I binge in secrecy and it is like a shark on a feeding frenzy. I mostly binge at night. I want to stop but I'm not sure how.

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