SOURCE: Kornstein SG. Epidemiology and recognition of binge-eating disorder in psychiatry and primary care. J Clin Psychiatry 2017;78(Suppl 1):3-8.

The diagnostic criteria for binge eating disorder includes at least weekly episodes of binge eating for at least three months.

Binge eating is described as ingesting, in a circumscribed period, a significantly larger amount of food than is typical; characteristically, sufferers feel a lack of control over how much they eat during the episode, and are not driven by sustained hunger.

In contradistinction from anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa, post-meal purging (or other compensatory measures such as hyper exercising or excessive laxative use) is not part of the diagnosis.

Binge eating disorder is more common than anorexia and bulimia, the two most well-known eating disorders. Part of the lack of recognition of binge eating disorder stems from its relatively recent inclusion as a specific eating disorder.

There are screening tools available for binge eating disorder appropriate for use in primary care settings, and Kornstein suggested inclusion of at least one screening question in routine care about eating habits such as “Do you ever feel a loss of control over how much you eat?”

Psychological as well as pharmacologic therapies (primarily antidepressants) have been demonstrated to produce some benefit for binge eating disorder. Because binge eating disorder is more common in persons with obesity, screening potentially is more useful in this population.