Binge eating disorder is currently the most common eating disorder found in the United States. It is believe that 3.5% of females and 2% of males in the United States suffer from binge eating disorder, with around 30% of all individuals who seek weight loss treatment suffering from the eating disorder as well. Although binge eating disorder is currently not a separate eating disorder, it will likely be classified as an eating disorder on its own with the 2013 edition of the new DSM-V.
What exactly causes binge eating disorder—as well as other eating disorders—still remains a controversial topic among psychologists, physicians, and other researchers. There are many factors which are thought to contribute to the development of binge eating disorder, or at least put a person at a higher risk for developing binge eating disorder—especially over other eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. Some of these factors include an abusive home life, an inability to cope or express emotions, a feeling of isolation or loneliness, a feeling of body dissatisfaction exacerbated by the binge eating behavior—some researchers believe that the heavy amounts of attention placed on a thin body ideal in modern Western media may also contribute to the development of eating disorders, including binge eating disorder. In general, however, most psychologists agree that the development of an eating disorder is multidimensional; there is no single factor which causes eating disorders.
The treatment of binge eating disorder is likewise multifaceted. Many people require a “team” of therapists, physicians and psychologists to truly help them recover from binge eating disorder or any eating disorder. Most treatments for this eating disorder involve a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy, nutrition therapy and—if necessary—physical treatment to treat any physical health problems caused by the binge eating disorder. Some, though not all, people with binge eating disorder are overweight or obese. This condition may actually exacerbate binge eating disorder because of a tendency for this extra weight to cause body dissatisfaction or depression—which, in turn, triggers binges on large amounts of food. If someone has binge eating disorder and finds that their body weight is a hindrance to recovery, they may require physical therapy to help them lose weight while also attending cognitive behavioral therapy sessions to address the behaviors associated with binge eating disorder and how to correct them.