Monday, March 10, 2008

Out on a Binge

Anyone running an obesity clinic is well aware of the surprisingly large number of patients who have Binge Eating Disorder (BED). Some reports put the number at around 30% of patients with severe obesity who seek help for their weight.

But you have to ask the right questions to make the diagnosis:

Do you ever, especially when you are alone and are not even really hungry, rapidly eat vast amounts of food that is not really a proper meal (e.g. a bag of chips followed by a box of cookies followed by a loaf of bread followed by all the cheese you can find followed by a bag of nuts followed by a pot of ice cream followed by……….you get the picture!) till you get uncomfortably full (or run out of food) and then end up feeling quite disgusted about yourself for having done it again but have no idea why you are doing this or how to stop yourself from doing it again?

If this behaviour occurs at least a couple of times a week over at least six months, this patient probably has BED, a well described eating disorder listed in the appendix of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV).

To me, the most important differential diagnosis is overeating because of true hunger (homeostatic hyperphagia) or as part of a planned social event (e.g. a birthday, a festival, a special treat, etc.).

Typically homeostatic hyperphagia occurs when you have not eaten enough during the day and your body craves calories so that when you finally allow yourself (or find the time) to eat, you end up eating the wrong things too fast till you vastly overshoot your actual caloric requirements. Also, overeating at social events, especially when there is plenty of great-tasting food (and alcohol), i.e. “pigging out at the buffet” – does not mean you have binge eating disorder.

The key differences are that the patient with BED is not eating because of any “need for calories” or physical hunger, is not eating as part of a regular meal or social event, and ends up feeling quite troubled and disgusted at the lack of control (unlike the “hedonic overeater” who truly enjoys splurging on tasty foods and actually feels quite happy and content after a large scrumptious meal).

Diagnosing BED (which, despite popular belief, occurs as commonly in men as in women!) is essential, as this condition is actually made worse by dieting and patients usually have long-standing histories of weight cycling (usually with the help of commercial weight loss programs). Given that patients have little control over their behaviour, recidivism of weight gain is extraordinarily high and long-term maintenance of weight loss is virtually impossible without addressing the pscychopthology specific to this condition.

Fortunately, BED is highly responsive to psychotherapy (e.g. cognitive behavioural therapy, group interpersonal therapy, etc.) with various investigators reporting upto 95% reduction in the frequency of binge-eating episodes with almost 80% of patients becoming completely free from binging. Pharmacotherapy also appears to provide some relief.

The bottom line is: “true” BED is common and needs to be treated as a separate and distinct psychiatric disorder before hoping to make any progress in weight management.

Luckily this is possible.

AMS

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

4 Responses to “Out on a Binge”

  1. ChoprDoctr says:

    Dr. Sharma.
    Do you have a good screening tool to look for BED in a busy clinical practice?

    Michael Lyon, MD

  2. Arya M. Sharma, MD says:

    We do not use a formal screeing tool in our clinic – we just take a quick history.

    The DSM-IV criteria are as follows:

    Recurrent episodes of binge eating. To qualify as binge eating, both of the following must be present:

    - Eating an amount of food that is clearly larger than what most persons would eat in a similar situation with the same amount of time,
    AND
    - A sense that one cannot stop eating or control content or quantity of food intake

    Three or more of the following are associated with the binge eating episodes:

    - Eating is notably faster than normal
    - Eating occurs until the person is beyond full, to the point of discomfort
    - The binge occurs when the person is not physically hungry
    - The person chooses to eat alone because the amount of food consumed is embarrassing
    - Disgust with oneself, depression, or guilt is present after overeating
    - The binge eating produces significant stress.

    Binge eating occurs an average of at least two days per week for six months.

    No compensatory behaviors—e.g., purging, excessive exercise, or fasting—are associated with the binge eating, and binges do not occur exclusively during the course of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa

    AMS

  3. Dr. Sharma’s Obesity Notes » Blog Archive » Binge-Eating and Outcomes in Gastric Bypass Surgery says:

    [...] are relatively common in weight loss-seeking obese individuals. Specifically, the prevalence of binge eating disorder (BED) has been reported to be in the range of 25-40% of all individuals seeking bariatric [...]

  4. Dr. Sharma’s Obesity Notes » Blog Archive » Gastrointestinal Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder says:

    [...] Binge Eating Disorder (BED) can be diagnosed in around 20-40% of patients presenting with severe obesity in obesity programs. [...]

Leave a Comment

In The News

Diabetics in most need of bariatric surgery, university study finds

Oct. 18, 2013 – Ottawa Citizen: "Encouraging more men to consider bariatric surgery is also important, since it's the best treatment and can stop diabetic patients from needing insulin, said Dr. Arya Sharma, chair in obesity research and management at the University of Alberta." Read article

» More news articles...

Publications

"Metabolically healthy overweight and obesity."

» Browse and download more journal publications...

Watch Dr. Sharma in the News!

Dr. Sharma - NEWS Videos

Listen to Dr. Sharma!

Dr. Sharma - on CBC.ca

Watch Dr. Sharma on Listen Up


  • Subscribe via Email

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner




  • Arya Mitra Sharma
  • Disclaimer

    Postings on this blog represent the personal views of Dr. Arya M. Sharma. They are not representative of or endorsed by Alberta Health Services or the Weight Wise Program.
  • Archives

     

  • RSS Weighty Matters

  • Click for related posts

  • Disclaimer

    Medical information and privacy
    Any medical discussion on this page is intended to be of a general nature only. This page is not designed to give specific medical advice. If you have a medical problem you should consult your own physician for advice specific to your own situation.


  • Meta

  • Obesity Links

  • If you have benefitted from the information on this site, please take a minute to donate to its maintenance.

  • Home | News | KOL | Media | Publications | Trainees | About
    Copyright 2008–2014 Dr. Arya Sharma, All rights reserved.
    Blog Widget by LinkWithin