Health Questions and Answers

Question: What is compulsive overeating?

Answer:

Compulsive overeating, sometimes known as “binge eating” is being defined as a third eating disorder. It is characterized by frequent episodes of marked overeating, occurring twice or more a week over a period of several months. The patient characteristically consumes several thousand calories at a sitting during the episodes of overeating. The condition occurs in the setting of chronic dieting and appears to be a reaction to the stresses and anxieties of attempted weight loss. The patient is usually overweight.

There is a close relationship between this disorder and bulimia nervosa. Compulsive overeating might be described as bulimia without the vomiting or the extreme fasting. A characteristic of this disorder is that the patient cycles, there is a tendency to wind up fatter. The cycling is probably more harmful than simple obesity. With each cycle, muscle mass is lost and the patient winds up with a high percentage of body fat as well as a relatively low lean body mass.

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