There is a prevailing assumption within the public arena as well as within the population of those suffering with an eating disorder, that Binge Eating Disorder, aka Food Addiction, is less "serious" than the other eating disorders - namely anorexia and bulimia. In addition, as if to make matters worse, BED as well as the other related eating disorders are viewed [even by patients] as a breakdown in self discipline or a failure of willpower. The more recent research would suggest these perceptions are dangerously mistaken.

As to the issue of consequences or potential risks associated with Binge Eating, a recent article in Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences reveals binge eaters have up to a four fold increase in being unable to perform day to day "normal activities" - sometimes referred to as ADL's [activities of daily living]. These can include proper hygiene, preparing meals, gainful employment, and maintaining their living space. Although specific statistics are currently in the process of being compiled, it is becoming evident the incidence of clinical depression, suicide, premature death, numerous chronic diseases processes such as diabetes and heart disease are significantly greater among those suffering with BED. Suffice it to say, BED has as great an impact on the quality of life as do it's cousins, anorexia and bulimia.

In terms of incidence in comparison to other eating disorders, the study found BED to be more than twice as common as Bulimia, not only in the United States but in other countries included in the research such as Mexico, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and several other countries. I suspect the incidence of BED is also significantly higher in men in comparison to Bulimia as well.

As has been demonstrated with the use of Magnetic Resonance Imaging [MRI] of the brains of Binge Eaters, the structure of the brain [dopamine receptors] and the concentration of neurotransmitters [specifically dopamine] differ from those of their non-eating disordered peers. More specifically, their "reward centers" in the brain are geared toward overeating to "feel good" or, in the latter stages of the disease, to avoid feeling bad. This evidence suggests BED is as much a disease process as any other eating disorder, or in my opinion, an addictive illness in the form of an eating disorder.

The study source is the Harvard Medical School.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Lerner is the founder and executive director of the Milestones in Recovery Eating Disorders Program located in Cooper City, Florida. A graduate of Nova Southeastern University, Dr. Lerner is a licensed and board certified clinical psychologist who has specialized in the treatment of eating disorders since 1980. He has appeared on numerous national television and radio programs that include The NPR Report, 20/20, Discovery Health, and ABC’s Nightline as well authored several publications related to eating disorders in the professional literature, national magazines, and newspapers including USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Miami Herald, Orlando and Hollywood Sun Sentinels. An active member of the professional community here in South Florida since finishing his training, Dr. Lerner makes his home in Davie with his wife Michele and daughters Janelle and Danielle and their dog, Reggie.

Professional Memberships:

- American Psychological Association [APA]
- Florida Psychological Association [FPA]
- National Eating Disorders Association [NEDA]
- Binge Eating Disorders Association [BEDA]
- National Association for Anorexia and Bulimia [ABA]
- Florida Medical Professional Group [FMPG]
- National Association of Cognitive Therapists
- International Association of Eating Disorder
Therapists [IADEP]

Prior and Current Affiliations:

- Founder and director of Pathways Eating Disorders
Program [1987-1994]
- Clinical Director, Eating Disorders Unit at
Glenbeigh Hospital, Miami, Fla. [1988-1990]
- Clinical Director, Eating Disorders Unit at Humana
Hospital Biscayne, Miami, Fla. [1982-1987]
- Founder and CEO, Milestones In Recovery’s Eating
Disorders Program, Cooper City, Fla. [1999-
- Florida Physicians Resource Network [2005-]