What is the most common eating disorder? When it comes to eating disorders, one may think of Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa. But no, they are not that common.
The most common eating disorder is Binge Eating Disorder (BED). It affects around 1 in every 50 people.
How BED looks like? People with BED may eat a large amount of food rapidly in a short amount of time without feeling hungry when triggered by emotions. They are losing their control when eating, and most of the time they eat alone due to feelings of embarrassment and shame. They might feel a sense of relief during a binge but later experience intense feelings of shame, guilt, or disgust. They become distressed with their eating behaviours, body image and weight.
A person must have at least one binge eating episode per week for a minimum of three months to be diagnosed with BED. They will not ‘undo’ the eating episodes by vomiting or over-exercising, thus the majority of them will have obesity that further affects their self-esteem and may lead to more mental health issues. Obesity also linked to lots of physical consequences such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
The causes of BED are not fully known: a variety of genetic, environmental, social, and psychological risks are associated with its development.
Treatment with psychotherapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Interpersonal Psychotherapy will provide people with BED with strategies to resolve their psychological issues and make changes in their life.
Many people may not have a disorder like BED, but they are emotional eaters. If you find that you are an emotional eater - where your mood and food are strongly associated for example you seek food for comfort in the events of stress, anxiety, depression or boredom - it will be helpful to seek support and professional help early. Having awareness of our pattern of eating behaviours and this relationship between food and mood, will be the first step to manage food and mood in a healthier way.
DR UMI ADZLIN SILIM Sessional Consultant Psychiatrist (Women & Perinatal Mental Health)
ANDORRA Women & Children Hospital