5 Health Side Effects of a Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorders cause compulsive overeating that leaves the sufferer feeling like she has no control over her eating habits. Binge eating is the most common eating disorder in the United States, and it affects just as many men as women. Binge eating may begin in adolescence, but often goes untreated. That is, until the patient begins to suffer from one or more of the many health problems that are associated with compulsive overeating. Here are some of the side effects that a binge eating disorder can have on your health.

1) Obesity

Obesity is the No. 1 side effect of a binge eating disorder. Binge eating episodes may vary in duration from 2 to 24 hours, and sufferers of a binge eating disorder may consume thousands of calories during a single episode. While many sufferers of binge eating disorder manage to maintain a healthy weight for years, due to a naturally high metabolism, many others eventually become overweight and then obese.

Obesity can lead to a number of serious health complications, including:

  • Cancer
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Sleep apnea
  • Arthritis

The complications associated with obesity can be deadly. Those who suffer from binge eating disorders who have become obese should seek professional help in order to regain a normal, healthy body weight.

2) Malnutrition

Binge eaters often binge on foods that contain few healthy nutrients, such as chips, sodas and various types of sweets and desserts. These foods may also be high in unhealthy food additives like sugar and salt. People who binge eat often don’t get all of the vitamins and minerals that they need from the unhealthy food they consume during binge eating episodes. They may also fall victim to a number of illnesses related to nutritional deficiencies.

3) Depression

Binge eating disorder sufferers often struggle with feelings of depression. They often feel depressed, guilty and ashamed about their inability to control their own eating habits. Those with binge eating disorders may experience any of the following symptoms of depression:

  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness and sadness
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors

Binge eating disorder sufferers often feel dissatisfied with their bodies and may feel lonely. They often suffer from low self esteem and anxiety.

4) Social Anxiety

Sufferers of binge eating disorders may feel socially anxious due to their weight. They may feel uncomfortable in social situations that involve food. They may have trouble maintaining relationships or advancing at work because episodes of binge eating interfere with work and social activities.

5) Substance Abuse Problems

Those who binge eat frequently may abuse alcohol or drugs in order to cope with feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety and guilt associated with episodes of binge eating. Binge eating is often described as an addiction in itself–an addiction to food. Binge eaters often struggle with feelings of emptiness, despair, disgust and shame that is related to their eating habits. They typically have problems expressing their emotions, and often have problems coping with negative feelings and managing stress.


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