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    Posted July 17, 2014 by
    San Diego 92101, California

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    The Hidden Epidemic of Binge Eating

    Unless you've been living under a rock for the last decade, you are no doubt aware of the significant obesity epidemic going on in this country. With over two-thirds of our population being considered overweight or obese, we certainly can consider this a problem.

    What you may be less aware of is the hidden epidemic of binge-eating. I refer to this as a hidden epidemic because most binge-eaters keep their symptoms a secret and only engage in binge-eating behaviors when they are alone. According to *Lyons (1998), binge-eaters "may spend a lot of time thinking about food or planning in advance what they are going to eat; and may plan to eat alone or in secret." Binge Eating is characterized by discrete episodes of eating more rapidly than normal even when they are not physically hungry, to the point where the individual is uncomfortably full. Because of the associated guilt they often feel, in regards to their behaviors, binge-eaters continue to withdraw socially more and more. Ultimately this can lead to severe depression and anxiety, which can even increase the frequency of binge eating behaviors. Besides these emotional risks, there are physical risks as well including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes.

    The important thing for all binge-eaters to know is that they are not alone. According to the National Association of Eating Disorders (NEDA), Binge Eating Disorder is the most common eating disorder in the U.S. affecting 3.5% of women and 2% of men. In fact, Binge-Eating Disorder was recently added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) as its own diagnostic category. The DSM-5 description of Binge Eating Disorder specifies recurrent and persistent episodes of binge-eating, marked distress regarding binges, and the absence of regular compensatory behaviors (such as purging, excessive exercise, or laxatives).

    The good news is that there is help out there. Reach out to a local therapist or support group specializing in eating disorders. Talk to your friends or family about your struggles so you don't feel so alone and isolated. For more information on binge eating and other eating disorders you can visit the National Association of Eating Disorders website at www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

    Dr. Candice Seti is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in San Diego

    *Lyons MA (1998) The phenomenon of compulsive overeating in a selected group of professional women. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 27, 6, 1158-1164.
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