Binge eating disorder (B.E.D.) is a real medical disorder

Binge eating disorder is more than overeating. 

Among other symptoms, people with this disorder feel that they lose control over eating during a binge episode and are very upset by their recurring episodes. They may also eat in private because of feeling embarrassed by how much they eat during a binge. 

B.E.D. is the most common eating disorder among US adults. It’s more common than anorexia and bulimia combined.* So, if you’re concerned about B.E.D., know that you are not alone.

Talking with your health care professional is the only way to learn whether what you’re experiencing is B.E.D.

*Based on 12-month and lifetime prevalence estimates among 2,980 US adults aged ≥ 18 years who were assessed for an eating disorder in a national survey. 

“It was really comforting to finally have the words to describe it to somebody.”

—KATIE N.

Watch her story

Questions you may have about binge eating disorder: 

  • Are there B.E.D. support groups or communities?

    There are several community-outreach and national and nonprofit organizations you can turn to for help. Check out a list here

    Discuss any concerns you may have about your eating with your doctor.

    If you're concerned about your eating, fill out a B.E.D. Symptom Checklist and take it with you to your doctor. Only a trained health care professional can diagnose binge eating disorder. 

  • Does B.E.D. only occur in people who are overweight?

    No, that may be a common misperception.

    Binge eating disorder can affect adults of all sizes: normal-weight, overweight, and obese. 


  • What are the differences between B.E.D. and overeating?

    B.E.D. is far less common than overeating and far more severe. Overeating during a party or holiday meal is not considered binge eating disorder, even though the amount of food may be excessive for a typical meal.

    Among other symptoms, B.E.D. includes:

    • Regularly eating far more food than most adults would in a similar period of time under similar circumstances.
    • Feeling that one's eating is out of control during a binge, and feeling very upset about it.

Binge eating disorder is not a choice; it is a neurobiological disorder

Portrait_Peter_CMYK_W051

The exact cause of binge eating disorder is unknown, but certain theories suggest that adults with B.E.D. may have differences in brain chemistry that could:

  • Interfere with the ability to regulate food intake
  • Create or increase the "wanting" of a particular food

Family history and certain life experiences may also play a role.

If you are concerned about binge eating disorder, talk with your doctor. Only a health care professional can diagnose B.E.D.

Facts about Binge Eating Disorder

2fact1

Binge eating disorder can occur in normal-weight, overweight, or obese adults.*

*Based on a sample of 2,980 US adults aged ≥ 18 years who were assessed for an eating disorder in a national survey.

2fact2

B.E.D. is a real medical condition that was recognized as a distinct eating disorder in 2013.

Lifetime prevalence in adults more common than anorexia and bulimia combined.

fact3

Based on lifetime prevalence estimates among 2,980 US adults aged ≥ 18 years who were assessed for an eating disorder in a national survey.

2fact4

Binge eating disorder affects approximately 2.8 million US adults, according to a national survey.

Based on 12-month prevalence estimates applied to the full US population ≥ 18 years.

2fact5

B.E.D. occurs at a similar rate across non-Latino white (1.4%), Latino (2.1%), Asian (1.2%), and African American (1.5%) adults in the US.§

§Sample from combined data set of 3 nationally representative samples of US adults [non-Latino whites, Latinos, Asians, and African Americans].

2fact6

Binge eating disorder affects both women and men. Based on percentage, two times as many women are affected as men in the US.//

//Based on 12-month prevalence estimates among 2,980 US adults aged ≥ 18 years.

“My eating behaviors finally have a name. It is a real condition and I got help.”

—PETER, Diagnosed with B.E.D.

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