The Connection Between Obesity and Eating Disorders

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Posted: November 10th, 2020
Close-up of woman holding the open refrigerator door during the night

Binge eating is a serious issue that can lead to obesity and other health complications if left unaddressed. 

 

No two people with obesity share the same experience. Some people have a hard time shedding stubborn pounds because of their genetics or metabolism, while others have hormonal imbalances or health conditions that cause them to gain weight more easily. 

Eating disorders are typically associated with eating too little, as is the case with anorexia nervosa or bulimia, but an unhealthy relationship with food can also cause someone to eat too much. Binge eating is a serious issue that can lead to obesity and other health complications if left unaddressed. Here’s what you need to know. 

What Is Binge Eating Disorder?

The Foundation for Research and Education in Eating Disorders (FREED) defines binge eating disorder (BED) as “a serious eating disorder characterized by recurrent binge eating without the use of inappropriate compensatory weight control behaviors.” 

Most people are guilty of overeating from time to time, but individuals with BED regularly overeat, even when they’re not hungry. You might have BED if you:

  • – Eat until you’re uncomfortably full
  • – Eat more than another person would under the same circumstances
  • – Feel like you can’t control how much you eat
  • – Feel relieved immediately after binging, then feeling ashamed, guilty, or disgusted because of how much you ate
 

Every person is different, and the causes of BED can be traced back to a variety of different genetic, environmental, social, and psychological factors. Many people with BED have poor body image, and feelings of insecurity about and dissatisfaction with one’s body can worsen the disorder. Also, studies from the National Institutes of Health have found that 80 percent of people with BED have at least one other psychological condition, most notably depression. 

Up to 50 percent of people with BED also have obesity, and the two conditions share many of the same weight-related health risks. Regularly overeating increases your risk of developing obesity, which in turn increases your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Other adverse health conditions associated with BED include sleep apnea, chronic joint pain, and an increased risk of fertility problems in women.

How To Address Eating Disorders

Binge eating is a very personal and sensitive topic, so it’s important to address eating disorders with care and compassion. There are many different ways to treat BED — from medications to psychotherapy to cognitive behavioral therapy — and only a professional will know which approach is right for you or your loved one. 

In addition to seeking professional help, here are some more tips for recovering from BED:

  1. – Keep A Food and Mood Journal — Keeping a journal helps highlight emotional triggers for overeating and tracking your meals is an effective strategy for weight loss.
  2. – Ditch The Dieting Mindset — Overly restrictive diets can cause binge eating episodes. Instead, focus on fueling your body with healthful meals in reasonable portions.
  3. – Don’t Skip Meals — Skipping meals increases cravings and makes you more likely to overeat. Practice eating at regular intervals and always start the day with a filling breakfast.
  4. – Practice Mindful Eating — Eating slowly and mindfully helps you learn to recognize when you no longer feel hungry, and see that as a cue to stop eating. 
  5. – Start Exercising — A 1996 study in the International Journal of Eating Disorders found that exercising weekly helped stop binge eating in 81 percent of participants. 
 

Let’s Talk

If you’ve struggled with obesity or binge eating in the past and traditional interventions haven’t worked, it might be time to consider bariatric surgery. Weight loss surgery makes it easier to lose excess weight and keep it off, plus your post-operative care includes getting the support you need to make small changes to your habits. These small lifestyle shifts help you change your relationship with food for the better and jumpstart your journey to a happier, healthier you. 

Contact the weight loss professionals at Long Island Laparoscopic Doctors today for a free 10-minute consultation.