Symptoms & Causes of Binge Eating Disorder

What are the symptoms of binge eating disorder?

If you have binge eating disorder, you may

  • eat a large amount of food in a short amount of time; for example, within 2 hours3
  • feel you lack control over your eating; for example, you cannot stop eating or control what or how much you are eating
Woman eating chocolate
If you have binge eating disorder, you may eat a large amount of food in a short amount of time.

You also may

  • eat more quickly than usual during binge episodes
  • eat until you feel uncomfortably full
  • eat large amounts of food even when you are not hungry
  • eat alone because you are embarrassed about the amount of food you eat
  • feel disgusted, depressed, or guilty after overeating4

If you think that you or someone close to you may have binge eating disorder, share your concerns with a health care provider. He or she can connect you to helpful sources of care.

What causes binge eating disorder?

No one knows for sure what causes binge eating disorder. Like other eating disorders, binge eating disorder may result from a mix of factors related to your genes, your thoughts and feelings, and social issues. Binge eating disorder has been linked to depression and anxiety

For some people, dieting in unhealthy ways—such as skipping meals, not eating enough food, or avoiding certain kinds of food—may contribute to binge eating. 


Last Reviewed June 2016

This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.

The NIDDK would like to thank:
Marian Tanofsky-Kraff, Ph.D., Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences Thomas A. Wadden, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine