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Binge Eating & Weight loss

What is Binge eating disorder (BED)?

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is characterised by recurrent episodes of frantic eating (bingeing), consuming larger than normal amounts of food within a short period of time (e.g. less than 2 hours), often when not physically hungry. If these episodes are associated with feelings of lack of control, a feeling of eating in an “automatic pilot” fashion, embarrassment, feeling uncomfortably full and subsequent distress/guilt results from having overeaten, then it is likely that an individual has a BED. Unlike other eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa, BED is not associated with inappropriate compensatory behaviours such as purging (e.g. vomiting, use of laxatives etc.). For this reason, BED can cause weight gain and obesity.

How common is BED?

6% individuals in the adult community as a whole describe themselves as “Compulsive Eaters” with 2% meeting the criteria for Binge Eating Disorder. Studies show that about 1 in 2 individuals trying to control their weight say that they have binged in the last month. It usually develops between the ages of 30-40 years.

What is the treatment for binge eating?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) will provide a goal focussed collaborative approach to treating the difficulty, and is the treatment of choice
– as recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE). Treatment involves:

  • education around the presenting problem, food and healthy weight loss

  • revealing and challenging unhelpful beliefs around bingeing and body shape

  • establishing and understanding binge patterns and how they may be related to mood and other stressors

  • recognizing, challenging and improving dysfunctional or maladaptive binge eating behaviours

  • addressing any accompanying difficulties such as low mood, irritability, anxiety or low self-esteem


Modified dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) can also be helpful. This is a primarily focuses on enhancing patients’ emotion regulation skills, awareness and self-acceptance.

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