Frequency of binge eating episodes in bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder: Diagnostic considerations

Int J Eat Disord. 2009 Nov;42(7):603-10. doi: 10.1002/eat.20726.


Objective: In DSM-IV, to be diagnosed with Bulimia Nervosa (BN) or the provisional diagnosis of Binge Eating Disorder (BED), an individual must experience episodes of binge eating is "at least twice a week" on average, for 3 or 6 months, respectively. The purpose of this review was to examine the validity and utility of the frequency criterion for BN and BED.

Method: Published studies evaluating the frequency criterion were reviewed.

Results: Our review found little evidence to support the validity or utility of the DSM-IV frequency criterion of twice a week binge eating; however, the number of studies available for our review was limited.

Discussion: A number of options are available for the frequency criterion in DSM-V, and the optimal diagnostic threshold for binge eating remains to be determined.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Binge-Eating Disorder / classification
  • Binge-Eating Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Bulimia Nervosa / classification
  • Bulimia Nervosa / diagnosis*
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Time Factors