Today, Dec. 30, the director and founder of "Men Get Eating Disorders Too," Sam Thomas wrote a debut article on the Huffington Post regarding the heightened prevalence of Binge Eating Disorder (BED) among men. Since BED was finally conceptualized as a primary mental diagnosis in the DSM-5, more attention has gone to understanding and treating this disorder.
Characterized by episodes of binge-eating, or eating unusually large quantities of food within a limited period of time (usually two hours or less), BED causes both devastating physical and psychological consequences. To qualify as BED, an individual must endorse experiencing a 'loss of control' while eating, resulting in mindless eating past the point of hunger and often until they are uncomfortably full. However, unlike bulimia, an individual with BED does not compensate for their binges either by vomiting, excessive exercise, or other means.
Due to this lack of compensation, obesity is a common consequence of BED, also leading to Type II diabetes, cardiovascular complications, sleep apnea, and other conditions typically comorbid with obesity. Along with the physical complications, BED causes significant psychological suffering due to feelings of lack of control over eating, shame and embarrassment over the condition, social isolation due to secretive eating, and depression. Because of these severe complications, it is essential that BED is caught early, diagnosed, and treated to decrease human suffering.
Although this disorder can affect anyone, Thomas' article emphasizes that contrary to diagnoses of anorexia and bulimia which are more prevalent in women, men are more likely to be diagnosed with BED than women. The Binge Eating Disorder Association's (BEDA) website currently cites the prevalence of BED as 3.5 percent in women compared to 2 percent in males, so there is still speculation as to who is most likely to be affected. However, with the new diagnostic criteria in the DSM-5, we will begin to have a clearer picture of the problem we face. Regardless, our attention needs to be focused on both men and women to alleviate the suffering of this disorder whenever possible.