The diagnostic validity of the criteria for binge eating disorder

Int J Eat Disord. 2008 Jan;41(1):1-14. doi: 10.1002/eat.20465.


Objective: This paper considers whether the criteria currently used to classify the diagnosis of binge eating disorder (BED) are valid and appropriate.

Method: We review evidence that reflects on the validity of the current criteria for binge eating episodes and BED, using literature retrieved through major psychology and psychiatry search engines (e.g., PsycInfo, PubMed).

Results: Evidence from experimental research points to the relative importance of episode frequency, the amount of food consumed at episodes, the subjective sense of loss of control over eating, and several additional criteria associated with binge episodes in BED. Evidence on the differences in psychopathology between BED and bulimia nervosa and between BED and obesity without binge eating, as related to diagnostic criteria, is reviewed.

Conclusion: Although evidence concerning the diagnostic criteria of BED is mixed, broadening certain diagnostic criteria for binge eating episodes and BED might more accurately reflect the research literature and increase the number of individuals eligible for inclusion in treatment programs.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Affect
  • Body Mass Index
  • Bulimia Nervosa / diagnosis*
  • Bulimia Nervosa / epidemiology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Humans
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Reproducibility of Results