Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Most Common Eating Disorder in America

While Anorexia and Bulimia are given most of the media and clinical research attention, it is actually Binge Eating Disorder that is the most common eating disorder in America today, according to a recently published survey.

Researchers at the Harvard University Medical School along with those at McLean Psychiatric Hospital interviewed 9,000 individuals between the years of 2001-2003 about their psychological histories and their eating habits. They interviewed individuals from all across the nation in order to collect more generalizeable data.

The researchers diagnosed less than 1% of women and 0.3% of men with anorexia, in which the main proponent of the disorder is self-starvation. Additionally, 0.5% of men and 1.5% of women were found to have bulimia, an eating disorder constituted by the binge-eating-purging cycle.

Finally, the researchers determined 2% of men and 3.5% of women suffered from binge eating disorder, significantly more individuals than those who suffered from either anorexia or bulimia. Binge eating disorder was defined as out-of-control eating, even after one felt full - at least twice a week.

One of the authors of the study pointed out those who struggle with binge eating are at risk for obesity, diabetes, certain types of cancer, heart disease, and stroke. In addition, the lead author of the study asserts binge eating disorder should be given more attention, given its high prevalence.

The study noted those between the ages of 18-29 are most likely to have an eating disorder, and individuals with eating disorders often struggle with depression and/or anxiety as well.

Personally, I am glad to see more research being done on binge eating disorder. When I was writing my thesis in college on personality traits and behavioral characteristics common among those with eating disorder, I found very few studies to cite in my paper. I am glad binge eating disorder is beginning to receive the attention it deserves, and I hope more individuals who struggle with binge eating disorder will be able to get help for their struggles more easily.


Fox News: Survey: Binging Most Common Eating Disorder in America:,2933,249481,00.html?sPage=fnc/health/mentalhealth