Almost everyone overeats occasionally, and sometimes, depending on the circumstances (such as celebrations), it may be culturally appropriate to eat a large amount of food. Such situations are occasional, social, and celebratory, while binge-eating, or compulsive overeating, reflects a pattern of recurrent episodes of gorging that involve a loss of control and cause an individual significant distress. In addition, binge-eating involves consuming what most people think is an unusually large amount of food very quickly, eating to the point of discomfort, and eating even when not hungry. Additionally, individuals engaging in binge-eating often eat alone due to embarrassment about how much they are consuming or feel depressed, disgusted, or ashamed about their eating habits.
Binge-eating disorder involves the consumption of a large amount of food in a short amount of time. Binge-eating episodes are associated with eating more rapidly than normal, eating until uncomfortably full, eating large amounts of food when not physically hungry, and feeling disgusted with oneself or depressed afterward. Binge-eating usually occurs in secrecy or as inconspicuously as possible. Unlike bulimia, there is no purging after the eating episodes; as a result, binge-eaters tend to gain weight.
Binge-eating disorder may be the most common eating disorder in the United States, where as many as four million adults struggle with it. It is more prevalent among women than men in the U.S. and afflicts females from all racial and ethnic groups. The condition is found more often among people seeking weight-loss treatment than in the general population. About 15 percent of the mildly obese, including those who try to lose weight on their own or with commercial products, have the disorder. While binge-eating is associated with obesity, most obese individuals do not engage in recurrent binge-eating.