Binge-eating disorder, or compulsive overeating, involves the consumption of a large amount of calories in a short amount of time. Unlike bulimia, there is no purging after the eating episodes; as a result, binge-eaters tend to gain weight. They often struggle with feelings of shame and depression.
Binge-eating is characterized by eating, in a discrete period of time, an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances. Binge-eaters also feel a lack of control over eating during the episode.
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.
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 females than males in the U.S. and afflicts females from all racial and ethnic groups. This 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.