The Other Side of Disordered Eating
> 12/9/2005 12:48:11 PM

Anorexia and bulimia are terms that most people are familiar with.  The terms themselves conjure up images of frighteningly thin people, and thoughts of binges and purges.  There is another side of disordered eating, however, that gets far less attention, but in reality is much more prevalent than either of it's sibling disorders.  This third disorder is called binge-eating disorder, or more commonly, food addiction.
According to the AP, the incidence of binge-eating disorder is on the rise.

David Levitsky, a professor of psychology and nutrition at Cornell University, said compulsive overeating is becoming more widespread in part because the country has a growing obsession with weight loss. Dieters make a religion of calorie-counting, starving themselves until their bodies rebel with a binge.

In less than a decade, the number of support groups across the country for binge-eaters has grown from 20 to 300.  The disorder is being diagnosed more often, and therefore, treated more often.

Even thin people and those of average weight can be possessed by binge eating, said Susan L., who chairs the group Food Addicts.

"Not all overeaters are obese, and not all obese people are overeaters," she said.

The only uniting characteristic is an overwhelming preoccupation with food, she said.

The behavior of compulsive overeaters is distinct from the average person who might indulge in normal "emotional eating" - like curling up with a carton of ice cream after a breakup or taking comfort in macaroni-and-cheese on a blue day.

Those in the throes of a binge feel they cannot stop and they eat until they are physically uncomfortable, according to Overeaters Anonymous.

For more information about binge-eating disorder, check out the following sites:
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders
Overeaters Anonymous
Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous

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