Binge eating disorder: a review

Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2002 Mar;26(3):299-307. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0801949.


Binge eating disorder (BED) is a new proposed eating disorder in the DSM-IV. BED is not a formal diagnosis within the DSM-IV, but in day-to-day clinical practice the diagnosis seems to be generally accepted. People with the BED-syndrome have binge eating episodes as do subjects with bulimia nervosa, but unlike the latter they do not engage in compensatory behaviours. Although the diagnosis BED was created with the obese in mind, obesity is not a criterion. This paper gives an overview of its epidemiology, characteristics, aetiology, criteria, course and treatment. BED seems to be highly prevalent among subjects seeking weight loss treatment (1.3-30.1%). Studies with compared BED, BN and obesity indicated that individuals with BED exhibit levels of psychopathology that fall somewhere between the high levels reported by individuals with BN and the low levels reported by obese individuals. Characteristics of BED seemed to bear a closer resemblance to those of BN than of those of obesity.A review of RCT's showed that presently cognitive behavioural treatment is the treatment of choice but interpersonal psychotherapy, self-help and SSRI's seem effective. The first aim of treatment should be the cessation of binge eating. Treatment of weight loss may be offered to those who are able to abstain from binge eating.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bulimia
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders* / complications
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Prognosis
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Weight Loss