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Keywords:

  • binge eating disorder;
  • anorexia nervosa;
  • bulimia nervosa;
  • psychopathology

Abstract

Objective

Current controversy exists regarding the status of binge eating disorder (BED) as a diagnostic entity. A critique of the literature is provided to address the question of whether BED represents a clinically significant syndrome.

Method

The scientific evidence is considered through addressing five questions that are key in evaluating the clinical utility of any mental disorder.

Results

Individuals with BED meaningfully differ from individuals without eating disorders, and share important similarities to, yet are distinct from, individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN). BED is associated with co-occurring physical and mental illnesses, as well as impaired quality of life and social functioning. Questions about the course of the disorder and the optimal treatment regimen for the syndrome need to be explored further.

Discussion

BED's distinctive combination of core eating disorder psychopathology, and other co-occurring physical and psychiatric conditions, impaired psychosocial functioning, and overweight constitute an eating disorder of clinical severity and a significant public health problem. © 2003 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 34: S96–S106, 2003.