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Characterization of Binge-Eating Behavior in Individuals With Binge-Eating Disorder in an Adult Population in the United States

Manjiri Pawaskar, PhD; Kirk Solo, MBA; Jason Valant, BA; Emily Schmitt, BA; Millicent Nwankwo, BA; and Barry K. Herman, MD, MMM

Published: October 27, 2016

Article Abstract

Objective: Characterize the frequency, duration, and severity of binge-eating behaviors in adults meeting DSM-5 criteria for binge-eating disorder (BED) in a large US community sample.

Methods: A representative sample of US adults from the National Health and Wellness Survey was recruited from an online panel and asked to respond to an Internet survey (conducted in October 2013) that included questions designed to assess binge-eating behaviors in relation to DSM-5 BED diagnostic criteria.

Results: Of 22,397 respondents, 344 self-reported meeting DSM-5 BED criteria (BED respondents). Most BED respondents reported that binge-eating episodes had occurred for the past 712 months (61.0%), and 93.6% reported 23 binge-eating episodes/wk. All BED respondents reported that "extreme" (52.6%) or "great" (47.4%) distress levels were associated with binge-eating episodes. Among BED respondents who agreed to provide detailed binge-eating behavior data after being invited to respond to additional survey questions, 40.6% reported binge eating on average > 1 time/d, and 59.2% reported binge eating 23 times/d. For 44.5% of BED respondents, binge-eating duration was 3160 minutes. BED respondents reported that they "very often" (36.6%) or "often" (34.0%) had urges to binge eat between 710 pm. "Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or guilty afterward" was the most bothersome symptom of binge eating for BED respondents (extremely bothersome: 41.9%).

Conclusions: Binge-eating frequency among BED respondents averaged once daily. Most BED respondents exhibited binge-eating behavior for 7-12 months, often with severe symptoms. These findings highlight the disease burden of BED and have potential implications for diagnosing and treating BED.

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