Gastrointestinal Symptoms of Binge Eating Disorder

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

This disorder is characterized by uncontrolled episodic consumption of large quantities of food, generally associated with psychological symptoms of guilt and despair.

Whether or not BED is also associated with physical symptoms is less well studied.

This question was recently examined by Cremonini and colleagues from the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA published in last month’s issue of the International Journal of Obesity.

In a population-based survey of community residents through a mailed questionnaire measuring GI symptoms, frequency of binge eating episodes and physical activity level in 4096 subjects, 6.1% of whom reported BED symptoms, BED was independently associated with acid regurgitation, heartburn, dysphagia, bloating, upper abdominal pain, diarrhea, urgency, constipation and feeling of anal blockage.

From this study it appears that BED is significantly associated with both upper and lower GI symptoms in the general population, independent of the level of obesity.

This work has two important implications: firstly, patients presenting with GI symptoms should be questioned regarding BED; secondly, patients presenting with BED should be screened for GI symptoms.

Edmonton, Alberta