According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2009), people with binge eating disorder report having significantly more health problems than the general population. These individuals become trapped in a cycle of emotional eating, which can result in a number of physical and psychological health problems.
Emergency After Binge Eating
The act of binge eating can result in a medical emergency. During a binge, individuals eat large quantities of food very quickly. In rare cases, the pressure of overeating can cause the lining of the stomach or the esophagus to tear or rupture. After excessive binge eating, this serious condition requires emergency medical treatment.
Physical Effects of Binge Eating Disorder
For most people, the primary effect of binge eating is weight gain. Most people binge on high-fat, sugary foods and may ingest thousands of calories during a single binge. Binge eating can lead to significant weight gain, which can lead to a number of weight-related health problems, including:
- Certain types of cancer
- Digestive disorders
- Gallbladder disease
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol levels
- Joint pain and muscle pain
- Sleep apnea
- Type 2 diabetes.
Not everyone who has binge eating disorder is overweight or obese. Nevertheless, people who are of average weight still suffer harmful binge eating effects. For example, many people try to “fix” their abnormal eating habits by skipping meals or going on a strict diet. In doing so, they actually deprive their bodies of essential vitamins and minerals, resulting in nutritional deficiencies.
Research shows additional effects of binge eating disorder that are unrelated to obesity, such as headaches, insomnia and an overall lower quality of life.
Psychological Effects of Binge Eating Disorder
People with binge eating disorder often use food as a means of dealing with emotional stress. They repeatedly turn to food to escape their problems, developing an addiction to food. Anxiety and depression often precede binge eating, but binge eating disorder can also exacerbate these conditions.
After binge eating, the individual feels even more depressed and–because food is her primary way of dealing with negative feelings–she consoles herself with another binge. Other psychological binge eating effects may include personality disorders, self-injury, substance abuse or suicidal thoughts.
Social Effects of Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating effects can also include social problems, such as loss of income or poor grades. Individuals with binge eating disorder may call in sick for work, skip school or even turn down social events to stay home and binge alone.
Mayo Clinic. (2010). Binge eating disorder – Complications. Retrieved August 16, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/binge-eating-disorder/DS00608/DSECTION=complications
National Alliance on Mental Illness. (n.d.). Binge eating disorder. Retrieved August 16, 2010, from http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=By_Illness&template=/ContentManagement /ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=65853
National Eating Disorders Association. (2005). Binge eating disorder. Retrieved August 16, 2010, from http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/nedaDir/files/documents/handouts/BingeED.pdf
Smith, M., Barston, S., Segal, R. & Segal, J. (n.d.). Binge eating disorder: Symptoms, causes, treatment, and help. Retrieved August 16, 2010, from http://helpguide.org/mental/binge_eating_disorder.htm
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2009). Binge eating disorder. Retrieved August 12, 2010, from http://www.womenshealth.gov/faq/binge-eating-disorder.cfm