Binge-eating disorder, now designated in the DSM-5, is associated with substantial lifelong impairments comparable to those of bulimia nervosa. This is according to a World Health Organization study conducted in 12 countries.
Binge-eating as destructive as bulimia
While binge-eating disorder and bulimia include recurrent episodes of excessive food consumption with a loss of control, the medical community has long assumed that bulimia had a greater burden of illness due to its more complex symptom profile; one defining symptom being inappropriate compensatory behavior like purging or using a laxative in order to avoid weight gain.
A largely ignored disorder, binge-eating needs more attention
“Binge-eating disorder has been largely ignored by health care providers, but it has a tremendous cost to the physical and psychological well-being of people with the disorder,” explained Ronald Kessler, McNeil Family Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School and senior author of the paper. “When all of the cases of the disorder are taken together, the elevated levels of depression, suicide and lost days at work represent substantial costs to society.”
The study found that both eating disorders typically arose during adolescence and were associated with a range of later-onset mental disorders like depression and anxiety. Physical disorders were also found like musculoskeletal disorders and diabetes. A lifetime history of binge-eating disorder or bulimia each predicted between two and nearly four-fold increases in days unable to work or carry out usual activities. And despite this, both disorders go largely undetected and untreated.
Early intervention may be key
The research recommends expanded efforts at early detection and treatment of eating disorders during the vulnerable school aged years. Some type of screening may help prevent the onset of subsequent mental and physical disorders and impairments associated with these disorders.
Source: MedicalNewsToday, Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences