Binge eating

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Classification according to ICD-10
F50.4 Binge eating in other mental disorders
F50.8 Other eating disorder
ICD-10 online (WHO version 2019)

Binge eating or binge eating disorder ( BED , English binge eating disorder , the British binge = binge) is an eating disorder , which is periodic cravings seizures (binge eating, commonly known as "binge eating" or "binges") with loss of conscious control about eating habits. In contrast to bulimia , no countermeasures are subsequently taken, so that in the long term, obesity is usually the result.


Current criteria according to DSM-5

The current criteria are formulated in DSM-5. The symptoms of binge eating disorder include:

  • at least one binge eating per week for at least three months
  • Suffering from binge eating
  • no compensation
  • During the binge eating: Loss of control and consuming a large amount of food

In addition, at least three of the following symptoms must appear:

  • hasty eating ("snares").
  • Eating until feeling very full .
  • Eating large amounts of food without being physically hungry
  • Alone (out of shame)
  • After the binge eating: self disgust, feelings of guilt and / or depression .

Possible additional symptoms

In the case of uncontrolled binge eating, foods rich in fat and sweet, which have a high physiological calorific value , are usually eaten .

Like bulimics, binge eaters usually hide their disordered eating behavior, including from friends or family members. Surveys of those affected suggest that the eating attacks are exclusively psychological and are mainly triggered by negative feelings, stress or boredom . Psychologists believe that unpleasant sensations are suppressed during the eating process. Accordingly, binge eating was a form of avoidance behavior . As with other eating disorders, there are different theories about the origin and function of this eating behavior. In nutritional psychology there is an explanation that so-called “restrained eating behavior” is a risk factor for the development of eating disorders, especially for bulimia and binge eating.

History of diagnostic criteria and recognition as a clinical picture

The disorder was first described by Albert Stunkard in 1959 .

In 1994 research criteria for the BES were formulated for the first time for the DSM-IV , with the publication of the DSM-5 the BES was added as a new independent diagnosis. In the ICD-10 , the BES is classified under “unspecified eating disorder” (F50.9) or under “binge eating in other mental disorders” (F50.4). The definition of this eating disorder has long been controversial, but the criteria are increasingly accepted by nutritionists and medical professionals; the need for treatment of this disorder is now largely recognized in Europe. The treatment concepts usually correspond to those of bulimia.

Differential diagnosis

Unlike bulimics or anorexics, binge eaters do not take post-meal compensatory measures such as vomiting, excessive exercise, or substance abuse.

For the eating disorder to be diagnosed, a physical cause must be ruled out and the symptoms must not be fully explained by another eating disorder or another mental disorder.


Binge eating disorder affects around 2% of the population. This makes it the most common eating disorder. There are more women than men among those affected, and the frequency of the eating disorder increases with age. A large proportion of binge eaters are overweight - however, conversely, only about a third of obesity patients in programs aimed at losing weight suffer from food cravings.

Physical consequences

The possible physical consequences of binge eating include obesity, metabolic syndrome, and other metabolic disorders .


The therapy aims to normalize eating behavior, whereby the triggering psychological problems are also treated. Binge eating disorder psychotherapy is largely based on concepts originally developed to treat bulimia. Treatment with relaxation and mindfulness-based procedures such as MBSR can also lead to improvement.

Antidepressants such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can be used to reduce the frequency of binge eating . The short-term effectiveness of antidepressants in binge eating has been sufficiently proven by studies. However, a possible long-term effect has not yet been adequately researched.

According to a report in JAMA Psychiatry, the amphetamine derivative lisdexamfetamine reduced the number of binge eating disorders in a randomized study in adult patients with binge eating disorder. The drug has been approved as a reserve drug for the treatment of ADHD in Germany since 2013 .


  • Sandra Becker, Stephan Zipfel: Binge Eating and Binge Eating Disorder. In: Günter Reich, Manfred Cierpka: Psychotherapy of eating disorders. 3. Edition. Thieme-Verlag, Stuttgart a. a. 2010, ISBN 978-3-13-108783-6 , pp. 62-71. (PDF)
  • Simone Munsch: Binge Eating. Cognitive behavior therapy for binge eating. Beltz Verlag, Weinheim u. a. 2003, ISBN 3-621-27531-2 .
  • Simone Munsch: Devouring life? Help for people with binge eating disorder and their relatives. Beltz Verlag, Weinheim u. a. 2007, ISBN 978-3-621-27475-3 .
  • Simone Munsch, Christoph Beglinger (Eds.): Obesity and Binge Eating Disorder . (= Bibliotheca psychiatrica. No 171). Karger, Basel 2005, ISBN 3-8055-7832-6 . (PDF; 3.0 MB)
  • Günter Reich u. a .: Eating disorders: anorexia, bulimia, binge eating. Trias Verlag, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-8304-3118-X .

Individual evidence

  1. a b DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria - Archived from the original on July 1, 2017 ; Retrieved July 26, 2017 (American English).
  2. A Guide to DSM-5: Binge Eating Disorder May 26, 2013 Accessed March 4, 2016
  3. ^ S. Becker, S. Zipfel: Binge Eating and Binge Eating Disorder. 2010, p. 62.
  4. June 4, 2015 PDF (512 kB)
  5. H.-K. Biesalski: Nutritional medicine: according to the nutritional medicine curriculum of the German Medical Association. Thieme Verlag, 2004, ISBN 3-13-100293-X , p. 337, (online)
  6. a b c d e f Corinna Jacobi & Martina de Zwaan: Eating disorders . In: Hans-Ulrich Wittchen & Jürgen Hoyer (Eds.): Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy . 2nd Edition. Springer Medicine, Berlin / Heidelberg 2011, ISBN 978-3-642-13017-5 , p. 1053-1081 .
  7. a b James E. Mitchell: Medical comorbidity and medical complications associated with binge-eating disorder . In: International Journal of Eating Disorders . tape 49 , no. 3 , 2016, ISSN  1098-108X , p. 319–323 , doi : 10.1002 / eat.22452 ( [accessed January 10, 2019]).
  8. Shawn N. Katterman, Brighid M. Kleinman, Megan M. Hood, Lisa M. Nackers, Joyce A. Corsica: Mindfulness meditation as an intervention for binge eating, emotional eating, and weight loss: A systematic review . In: Eating Behaviors . tape 15 , no. 2 , p. 197–204 , doi : 10.1016 / j.eatbeh.2014.01.005 .
  9. Susan L. McElroy, James I. Hudson, et al. a .: Efficacy and Safety of Lisdexamfetamine for Treatment of Adults With Moderate to Severe Binge-Eating Disorder. In: JAMA Psychiatry. doi: 10.1001 / jamapsychiatry.2014.2162 .
  10. Lisdexamfetamine: ADHD drug works for binge eating disorder. In: Deutsches Ärzteblatt. January 15, 2015, accessed January 17, 2015.