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Binge eating is a persistent problem

Binge eating disorder may last much longer than the other eating disorders of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

Binge eating is a persistent problem

Binge eating disorder may last much longer than the other eating disorders of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. People with binge eating disorder often eat large amounts of food while feeling a loss of control over their eating. The disorder is different from the binge-purge syndrome of bulimia because binge eaters usually do not purge afterward by vomiting or taking laxatives. There has been a long-standing question as to whether binge-eating disorder is a genuine disorder, in and of itself, or simply a non-specific pattern of eating. Researchers from the Harvard Medical School in Boston studied 131 adults with binge eating disorder, 18 with anorexia, and 17 with bulimia. They found that the average length of binge eating disorder was 14 years, significantly longer than the average duration of bulimia (6 years) or anorexia (6 years). Most binge eaters reported a single continuous lifetime episode as opposed to multiple episodes. The current study suggests that binge eating disorder is quite chronic and stable, which favours the possibility that binge eating disorder is an actual psychiatric disorder, rather than simply a non-specific pattern of eating. Although recently recognised as a distinct condition, binge eating disorder appears to be more common than anorexia and bulimia. Treatments for binge eating disorder include cognitive-behavioural therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, self-help groups, and antidepressant medication.
American Journal of Psychiatry,
January 2007
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