Binge Eating Disorder
Do you sometimes feel that your kids might eat you out of house and home? It can feel like that at times, especially during the teen years. They grab a handful of cookies here, a bag of chips there, and finish last night's leftovers in a flash. They're growing like weeds, of course, so you figure all that eating is OK. And most of the time, it is.
But sometimes, heavy snacking isn't what it seems to be. A kid who eats unusually large amounts of food — and feels guilty or secretive about it — could be struggling with a common eating disorder called binge eating disorder.
About Binge Eating Disorder
Lots of people find comfort in food. After all, it's often at the heart of our happiest celebrations. Birthdays can mean cake with friends; Thanksgiving often means turkey and stuffing with family. Most people will sometimes eat much more than they normally do (or even want to) on special occasions.
But people with binge eating disorder have a different relationship with food — they feel like they've lost all control over how much they're eating, like they can't stop. They also binge more frequently — at least twice a week for several months.
For people with binge eating disorder, at first food may provide feelings of calm or comfort or stop them feeling other difficult feelings, but if bingeing continues, it can cause anxiety, guilt and distress. A binge usually involves eating unusually large amounts of food quickly and feel completely out of control as they do it. These behaviors can become a habit, and is often alternated with dieting.
Binge eating disorder is more common in people who are obese, but it affects people of healthy weight as well. However, there's little information on how many kids and teens are affected because the condition has only recently been recognized, and some may be too embarrassed to seek help for it.
Also, because most binge eating is done alone, even if their kids may be gaining weight, parents might not be aware that it's due to bingeing.
While most people with other eating disorders (like anorexia and bulimia) are female, an estimated third of those with binge eating disorder are male. Adults in treatment (including 2% of adult Americans — roughly 1 million to 2 million people) often say their problems started in childhood or adolescence.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2009 The Nemours Foundation. All rights reserved.
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