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Understanding Binge Eating Disorder

Understanding Binge Eating Disorder

Advisory by Tran Anh Nhi, Guardian Pharmacist

What is binge eating disorder?
Binge eating disorder (BED) is defined as recurrent episodes of binge eating (eating a large amount of food, often to a point of discomfort over a short period of time) at least once every week over 3 months, without any compensatory behaviour such as forced-vomiting.

What causes BED?
No exact cause for BED has been identified. However, genetic, emotional, psychological, and social factors have all been associated with BED.

What are the signs and symptoms of BED?
People with BED display various psychological, physical and behavioural signs and symptoms. For example, they may feel extreme distress, guilt, shame, or depression during and after binge eating episodes. Additionally, they may be preoccupied with eating, food, body shape or weight and any comments on these issues by others can trigger extreme dissatisfaction and sensitivity. People with BED are also more prone to lethargy and may suffer from sleep problems as well.

What are the health risks of BED?
BED affects a person mentally and physically. Mentally, people with BED are trapped in a vicious cycle of binge eating to relieve depression and anxiety. On the physical end, obesity is a likely consequence of BED, which is a risk factor for many other chronic diseases.

What forms of treatment and support are available for BED?
Similar to other eating disorders, BED can be treated. Sharing your condition with your trusted family members or close friends and getting their support is the first step. A program consisting of behavioural change therapy, counselling on eating patterns, and/or drugs is available to treat BED.

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