What is this thing called BED? Current status of binge eating disorder nosology

Authors

  • Michael J. Devlin,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York
    2. Eating Disorders Research Unit, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York
    • New York State Psychiatric Institute, Unit 116, 1051 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10032
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  • Juli A. Goldfein,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York
    2. Eating Disorders Research Unit, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York
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  • Ilyse Dobrow

    1. Eating Disorders Research Unit, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York
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Abstract

Objective

Although binge eating has been recognized as a clinically relevant behavior among the obese for more than four decades, the concept of binge eating disorder (BED) as a distinct psychiatric diagnosis is of much more recent origin. This article presents four ways of conceptualizing BED: a distinct disorder in its own right, as a variant of bulimia nervosa, as a useful behavioral subtype of obesity, and as a behavior that reflects psychopathology among the obese. It also summarizes the evidence supporting and disconfirming each model.

Method

The literature subsequent to the development of DSM-IV regarding the reliability and validity of BED and related conditions was reviewed selectively.

Results

The preponderance of the evidence suggests that BED differs importantly from purging bulimia nervosa and that BED is not a strikingly useful behavioral subtype of obesity.

Discussion

Further study is needed to definitively determine the validity of BED as a distinct eating disorder. © 2003 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 34: S2–S18, 2003.

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