Binge eating is an eating disorder that can impose serious health risks, and even death in some cases.
This post will explore the long and short-term side effects of binge eating. Being able to identify these side effects can help you or others on the road to recovery. If you are looking for more information on treatment for binge eating, read our post here.
What is Binge Eating?
Before discussing the side effects of binge eating, we should understand what it is. Binge eating is the most common eating disorder in the United States. It is a life threatening disorder in which the individual experiences recurrent episodes of ingesting large quantities of food; often, to the point of discomfort. Eating more rapidly than usual is another behavior individuals experience during binge eating. These episodes are also accompanied by feelings of shame, distress, or guilt. Most individuals experiencing binge eating disorder do not regularly engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as, purging, to relieve themselves from the binge eating. While most people battling the disorder are obese, clinically obsese people do not engage in binge eating.
According to the psychological mental disorders assessment manual (DSM – 5), individuals engage in binge eating at least once a week for 3 months. Remission rates for binge eating is higher than other eating disorders; such as, bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. The overcompensation of food is their comfort. Some individuals do not even have to be physically hungry to engage in a binge eating episode. However, they will still eat until they are uncomfortably full. Like most eating disorders, binge eating is a way in which the individual copes with deeper personal distress. Addressing those issues and learning to effectively cope is the first step on the road to recovery.
Binge Eating Facts and Demographics
Learning who is at risk and the scope in which binge eating disorder affects people and individuals is a great way to help oneself or others take preventative actions to combat binge eating. The following section will outline some interesting facts about the eating disorder and the groups at risk.
- In 2013, binge eating was recognized as a formal diagnosis
- Binge eating affects 3 times the number of individuals who battle anorexia and bulimia.
- It is associated with being overweight/obese
- Most common among women overall, but the most common type of eating disorder among men.
- Binge eating affects all races, levels of socioeconomic status, and age groups.
- Often begins in early adolescent
- Women mostly experience it in early adulthood with men experiencing it in midlife.
- Most people do not get a diagnosis from their doctor and do not receive treatment
Short-Term Effects of Binge Eating
Whether you or someone you know is being affected by binge eating, there are some short term effects to be aware of. Identifying these early on can help prevent long term effects.
- Isolation when eating
- Fluctuating weight
- Diets often
- Disappearance of large amounts of food
- Hoarding food
- Withdrawing socially
- Extreme concern with body image
Physical Effects of Binge Eating
Lacking the proper nutrition needed to function can take a toll physically. The following section will provide an overview of the physical effects caused by binge eating.
Binge eating can cause distress on the digestive system. Some side effects to be aware of in regards to the digestive system include:
- Stomach cramps
- Weight gain and loss
- Acid reflux
- Gallbladder disease
Irregular eating habits can severely disrupt your digestive system temporarily or permanently.
How well your cardiovascular system functions is imperative to your survival. It is made up of our heart and blood vessels, transporting needed nutrients and oxygen to the organs and tissues in your body. These effects mostly stem from obesity.
- Heart disease
- High blood Pressure
- High cholesterol
All of these effects can cause dire outcomes such as heart attacks, pulmonary embolisms, aneurysms, and strokes. Aside from your brain, your heart is the most important organ in your body. Taking proper care of it can ensure a long healthy life.
Mental and Emotional Effects of Binge Eating
In addition to the physical effects binge eating causes, there are also mental and emotional effects to be aware of. Taking care of your mental and emotional health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. Considering eating disorders are a way of coping with deeper psychological issues, the severity of the psychological issues can impact the severity of binge eating. The following section will shed light on these effects.
- Negative feelings of disgust, guilt, or depression
- Difficulty concentrating
- Extreme concern with body image and weight.
Long-Term Effects of Binge Eating
Engaging in this behavior for long periods of time can cause serious damage to the individual. A person battling binge eating may experience the following health, mental, and emotional side effects such as:
- Lower quality of life
- Social Isolation
- Sleep apnea
- Chronic fatigue
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart failure
- Certain cancers
- Joint and muscle pain
It is encouraged that if you or someone you know is engaging in binge eating that they seek help. The sooner someone is able to begin the road to recovery, the better outcome they will have for the long run.
Treatment for Binge Eating Disorder in Miami, Florida
If you or a loved one suffer from binge eating disorder, it may seem like a hopeless journey full of pain and disappointments. But I’m here to help, I’ve dedicated my life to helping individuals overcome deadly eating disorders like binge eating disorder – a full recovery is within your grasp. There is hope!
I’m Dr. Amy Boyers, a Clinical Psychologist in Miami who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders (all types) and other serious, long-term mental health conditions, including addictions, bipolar disorder treatment, and OCD. I offer personalized and sophisticated eating disorder treatment services, individual and family psychotherapy, family member support and education, in-home meal support, coordination of a treatment service, and much more.
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596