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Les Cours Medical Centre

Obesity and Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating occurs in people of all weight levels, but is more common in obese individuals. The presence of binge eating complicates the treatment of obesity. Obese binge eaters show more emotional disturbances than obese non-binge eaters. Individuals with significant problems with obesity and BED need a specialized form of treatment addressing both problems. Working on both issues together should have synergistic effects. That’s why we developed our specialized Obesity and Binge Eating Disorder program.

Clinical indications

Individuals suffering with binge eating disorder experience embarrassment or shame about their eating habits, symptoms may often be hidden. Here are some behavioral and emotional signs and symptoms of binge eating disorder:

  • Continually eating even when full
  • Inability to stop eating or control what is eaten
  • Stockpilling food to consume secretly at a later time
  • Eating normally in the presence of others but gorging when isolated
  • Experiencing feelings of stress or anxiety that can be relieved by eating.

Summary of the treatment

BED is an eating disorder diagnosis referring to a regular pattern of binge eating, which is defined as eating an amount of food that is definitely more than most people would eat in a similar period of time and under similar circumstances.

In addition to the amount eaten, binging is associated with a strong sense of loss of control during the episode. Three or more of the following are also present: (a) eating much more rapidly than normal, (b) eating until uncomfortably full, (c) eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry, (d) eating alone because of being embarrassed by how much one is eating, and (e) feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty after overeating.

These episodes have occurred, on average, at least 2 days per week for 6 months. In contrast to individuals suffering from Bulimia Nervosa, those with BED do not engage in the regular use of inappropriate compensatory behaviors (e.g. vomiting, laxatives). BED is associated with lower self-esteem, more depression and greater anxiety.

The treatment of BED involves an analysis of the context of binging (i.e. the what, when, where, how and why), and the development of alternative coping mechanisms. Our program combines techniques for reducing binge eating and improving weight control. Thus, whereas in many programs for BED participants tend not to lose any weight, our approach allows individuals to work on both goals simultaneously.