Effects of binge eating disorder
Binge eating leads to a wide variety of physical, emotional, and social problems. People with binge eating disorder report more health issues, stress, insomnia, and suicidal thoughts than people without an eating disorder. Depression, anxiety, and substance abuse are common side effects as well. But the most prominent effect of binge eating disorder is weight gain.
Obesity and binge eating
- Type 2 diabetes
- Gallbladder disease
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Certain types of cancer
- Joint and muscle pain
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Sleep apnea
In addition, people with binge eating disorder are extremely distressed by their binge eating. In some cases, people will neglect their jobs, school, or social activities to binge eat.
Causes of binge eating and compulsive overeating
The exact cause of binge eating disorder is still unknown, and researchers are just beginning to understand the consequences of the disorder and the factors affecting its development. Like other eating disorders, binge eating disorder seems to result from a combination of psychological, biological, and environmental factors.
Binge eating disorder has been linked to other mental health disorders. Nearly half of all people with binge eating disorder have a history of depression, although the exact nature of the link is unclear. Many people report that anger, sadness, boredom, anxiety, or other negative emotions can trigger an episode of binge eating. Impulsive behavior and certain other psychological problems also seem to be more common in people with binge eating disorder.
Eating disorders, including binge eating disorder, tend to run in families, suggesting that a susceptibility to eating disorders might be inherited. Researchers also are looking into how brain chemicals and metabolism (the way the body burns calories) affect the development of binge eating disorder.
People with binge eating disorder often come from families that overeat or put an unnatural emphasis on food; for example, using it as a reward or as a way to soothe or comfort.
Generally, it takes a combination of things to develop binge eating disorder — including a person’s genes, emotions, and experience.
Biological causes of binge eating disorder
Biological abnormalities can contribute to binge eating. For example, the hypothalamus (the part of the brain that controls appetite) may not be sending correct messages about hunger and fullness. Researchers have also found a genetic mutation that appears to cause food addiction. Finally, there is evidence that low levels of the brain chemical serotonin play a role in compulsive eating.
Social and cultural causes of binge eating disorder
Social pressure to be thin can add to the shame binge eaters feel and fuel their emotional eating. Some parents unwittingly set the stage for binge eating by using food to comfort, dismiss, or reward their children. Children who are exposed to frequent critical comments about their bodies and weight are also vulnerable, as are those who have been sexually abused in childhood.
Psychological causes of binge eating disorder
Depression and binge eating are strongly linked. Many binge eaters are either depressed or have been before; others may have trouble with impulse control and managing and expressing their feelings. Low self-esteem, loneliness, and body dissatisfaction may also contribute to binge eating.
Binge eating and your emotions
One of the most common reasons for binge eating is an attempt to manage unpleasant emotions such as stress, depression, loneliness, fear, and anxiety. When you have a bad day, it can seem like food is your only friend. Binge eating can temporarily make feelings such as stress, sadness, anxiety, depression, and boredom evaporate into thin air. But the relief is only very fleeting.