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Published On: Jun 13, 2024|Categories: Binge Eating Disorder, Nutrition & Health|

It is common for individuals who are not satisfied with their physical appearance to struggle with mental health challenges in various ways. Society and social pressures are intensely relentless in their expectations of what people should look like. While there has been a recent movement towards inclusivity and body positivity, the stigmas still exist.

Sadly, this can lead to more than just low self-esteem. People who are obese are also at a high risk for developing binge eating disorder to try and cope. But to appropriately treat binge eating disorder as a result of obesity, professional mental health treatment is often required.

What is obesity? 

In the States, obesity is not uncommon. Approximately 40 percent of individuals in the States are obese due to causes including various health conditions, poor diet choices, and lack of appropriate exercise. 

According to the World Health Organization, “Obesity is a chronic complex disease defined by excessive fat deposits that can impair health. It can lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, affect bone health and reproduction, and increase the risk of certain cancers. Obesity influences the quality of life, such as sleeping or moving.”

Obesity is often caused by an imbalance of exercise and caloric intake, where the lack of exercise usually causes an increase in weight over time. Diets high in sugar, fats and carbohydrates can worsen this condition, as the lack of exercise causes the body to store these in excess. 

“In most cases, obesity is a multifactorial disease due to obesogenic environments, psycho-social factors and genetic variants. In a subgroup of patients, single major etiological factors can be identified (medications, diseases, immobilization, iatrogenic procedures, monogenic disease/genetic syndrome).”

Numerous causes of obesity exist, and the health complications of obesity can, in turn, cause several mental health complications to arise, too.

What is a binge eating disorder? 

Binge eating disorder is when you eat a large amount of food in a short period and feel as though you do not have control over what or how much you are eating. To compensate for this large amount of food, individuals who struggle with binge eating disorder often engage in unhealthy methods of coping to attempt to lose weight.

These methods include: 

  • Overusing laxatives or diuretics to flush out the increased amounts of food or drink
  • Abusing diet pills
  • Purging via induced vomiting
  • Over-exercising
  • Restricting food intake throughout the day to “save up” calories to compensate for a binge in the evening

Binge eating disorder (BED) is challenging for individuals to handle on their own and often requires the help of a trained mental health counselor to offer more effective coping mechanisms. This is because BED often causes the onset of difficult emotions like shame and guilt. 

Oftentimes, the practice of binge eating occurs in private, and discomfort often arises from attempting to keep these habits a secret from loved ones. Or, there is an inability to control the habit of binge eating, and extreme dissatisfaction in one’s lack of self-control threatens to cause considerable feelings of overwhelm and stress. 

Does obesity cause binge eating disorder?

Studies have shown that binge eating disorder and obesity may be more connected than we realize. “Those with BED are an estimated 3 to 6 times more likely to be obese than those without an eating disorder. BED is also associated with an earlier onset of being overweight and a history of obesity, with about 30 percent of those with BED reporting childhood obesity.”

Those who are obese are more likely to struggle with mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, social challenges including discrimination and isolation, and others like low self-esteem, family conflict, and negative body image. 

Additional studies show that “as weight increases, so does the prevalence and frequency of binge eating. In traditional behavioral weight-loss programs, obese people who binge eat may lose less weight, regain weight more rapidly, and have higher attrition rates than their counterparts who do not binge eat.”

In other words, men and women who are obese are at a higher risk of developing binge eating disorder as a result of struggling to lose weight and relapsing quickly after periods of improvement. 

Where can I find treatment for binge eating?

If you or a loved one have found yourself struggling with a binge eating disorder as a result of obesity or battling any disordered eating habits, treatment is available. Through holistic methods and personalized treatment plans to reach individuals goals, recovery is not only attainable, it becomes truly maintainable. 

To learn more about our treatment programs or get started on your recovery journey today, call Seeds of Hope by calling 610-644-6464 or online anytime to learn more.

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