Frequency of binge eating episodes in bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder: Diagnostic considerations


  • G. Terence Wilson PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, New Jersey
    • Rutgers University Eating Disorders Clinic, 41C Gordon Rd., Piscataway, New Jersey 08854
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  • Robyn Sysko PhD

    1. Department of Psychiatry, College of Physicians & Surgeons of Columbia University, The Division of Clinical Therapeutics, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, New York
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In DSM-IV, to be diagnosed with Bulimia Nervosa (BN) or the provisional diagnosis of Binge Eating Disorder (BED), an individual must experience episodes of binge eating is “at least twice a week” on average, for 3 or 6 months, respectively. The purpose of this review was to examine the validity and utility of the frequency criterion for BN and BED.


Published studies evaluating the frequency criterion were reviewed.


Our review found little evidence to support the validity or utility of the DSM-IV frequency criterion of twice a week binge eating; however, the number of studies available for our review was limited.


A number of options are available for the frequency criterion in DSM-V, and the optimal diagnostic threshold for binge eating remains to be determined. © 2009 American Psychiatric Association. Int J Eat Disord 2009