Learn about binge eating disorder

Key points:

  • Binge Eating Disorder is the most common eating disorder in Australia
  • Everyone overeats at times – this is not the same as Binge Eating Disorder
  • People with Binge Eating Disorder eat a very large amount of food in a short time, and feel out of control as they eat

BED (Binge Eating Disorder) is a psychological illness that was only recently officially recognised as an eating disorder. It tends to be less well known and understood than anorexia or bulimia. It’s important to note that BED is not the same as overeating, nor does everyone who is overweight or obese have BED.

People with BED:

  • have episodes of eating a very large amount of food in a short time
  • feel out of control while they are eating and feel shame or guilt after they eat
  • do not vomit or overexercise to make up for the extra calories (unlike people with bulimia)
  • people with BED are often, but not always, overweight or obese. This weight gain is the cause of most of their consequent health problems.

What causes BED?

There is no single cause of BED. Binge eating is most likely to occur after dieting, when the body tries to protect itself against starvation. Some research suggests that other risk factors for binge eating disorder may include childhood obesity, low self-esteem, depression, bullying, teasing about weight/appearance, or abuse during childhood.


Recovery from binge eating disorder is possible. Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and support groups are the most common forms of help. If you are worried about yourself or someone you know, please seek professional advice from your GP, call EDV on 1300 550 236 or email help@eatingdisorders.org.au.