A binge is an episode of excessive eating or drinking. People who binge eat very large quantities of food over a short period of time, even when they're not hungry. Binges are often planned in advance and the person may buy "special" binge foods.

Sometimes, a person will describe being in a "dazed state" during a binge particularly binges at night and not being able to remember what they ate. People who regularly eat this way are likely to have a binge eating disorder.

Anyone can be affected by binge eating disorder, although it's slightly more common in women than men. Binge eating disorder tends to first develop during early adulthood, but many people don't seek help until they're in their 30s or 40s. It's estimated that you have a 1 in 30 to 1 in 50 chance of developing binge eating disorder at some point in life.

Signs of binge eating disorder include:

  • Eating much faster than normal during a binge
  • Eating until you feel uncomfortably full
  • Eating a large amount of food when you're not hungry
  • Eating alone or secretly because you're embarrassed about the amount of food you're consuming
  • Having feelings of guilt, shame or disgust after binge eating

The dangers of compulsive overeating

The main problem linked to compulsive overeating is obesity. Obesity can cause many other health problems including:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Certain cancers such as bowel, breast and cervical