Understanding Binge Eating Disorder in Men

Understanding Binge Eating Disorder in Men

Binge eating is a pattern of disordered eating. It affects more people in the US than anorexia or bulimia nervosa. Though eating disorders are generally associated with women, nearly 40% of people with binge eating disorder are men. Binge eating was traditionally viewed as a symptom of other eating disorders. It is now recognized as a true disorder in theDiagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Like other eating disorders, it has both psychological and social components. Men with this disorder struggle with the urge to binge, then feel shame after a bingeing incident. This can become a vicious cycle that increases binges and leads to unhealthy weight gain and obesity. The good news is there are treatments available.

Defining Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is a loss of control over your eating. It is different than eating associated with normal weight gain. People with this disorder have an unhealthy connection to eating that leads to compulsive behavior. During a binge, the amount of food eaten is larger than most people would consume in a similar amount of time. The excess amount of food is often eaten in less than 2 hours. In addition to binge eating, people with this disorder will experience some of the following:

  • A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode
  • Eating until they feel uncomfortably full
  • Eating large amounts of food when they do not physically feel hungry
  • Eating alone because of embarrassment at how much they are eating
  • Feeling disgusted with themselves, depressed, or very guilty after overeating

The bingeing may occur at any time of day or night. It is a cycle of eating, shame, and despair. Bingeing often becomes secretive which may make it difficult for family and friends to recognize that there is a problem.

Risk Factors for Binge Eating Disorder

There are many factors associated with the development of a binge eating disorder. It is usually a combination genetics, environment, and other factors. Here are some common characteristics found in people with binge eating disorder:

  • Depression
  • Problems dealing with emotions, such as anger, sadness, worry, or boredom
  • Rigid, inflexible, controlling, perfectionist
  • Difficulty expressing feelings and needs
  • Avoids conflict and works hard to please others
  • Sensitivity to critical comments about weight, appearance, or body shape
  • Stress
  • Low self-esteem
  • Past experience with being bullied
  • Social isolation

It is not clear if these factors lead to an eating disorder or are caused by the disorder, but they are often present together.

How to Get Help

Men with symptoms of binge eating disorder need to seek treatment as soon as possible. Early treatment can minimize the amount of weight gain and perhaps prevent obesity. Binge eating disorder is treatable and may include 1 or more the following:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy or behavioral counseling (alone or with a group) to find and control triggers
  • Counseling to achieve and maintain a healthy weight
  • Treatment of any underlying disorders that contribute binge eating

People with binge eating disorder can also be treated with:

  • Antidepressants—rebalances brain chemicals associated with mood
  • Anticonvulsants—helps control binge eating episodes
  • Anti-obesity medications—helps control appetite

Binge eating disorder is a complicated problem that can go on for years. If you feel you or a loved one needs help, contact your doctor and get started on treatment plan.


National Eating Disorders Organization
Overeaters Anonymous


National Eating Disorders Information Centre


Males and eating disorders. National Eating Disorders website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed July 20, 2016.
Binge eating. Weight-control Information Network website. Available at
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed July 20, 2016.
Manwaring JL, Hilbert A, Wilfley, DE, et al. Risk factors and patterns of onset in binge eating disorder. Int J Eat Disord. 2006;39(2):101-107.
Marazziti D, Corsi M, et al. Latest advancements in the pharmacological treatment of binge eating disorder. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2012;16(15):2102-2107.
Reas DL, Grilo CM: Review and meta-analysis of pharmacotherapy for binge-eating disorder. Obesity. 2008;16(9):2024-2038.
Reas DL, Grilo CM. Timing and sequence of the onset of overweight, dieting, and binge eating in overweight patients with binge eating disorder. Int J Eat Disord. 2007;40(2):165-170.
Sysko R, Walsh BT: A critical evaluation of the efficacy of self-help interventions for the treatment of bulima nervosa and binge-eating disorder. Int J Eat Disord. 2008;41:97-112.
Vocks S, Tuschen-Caffier B, Pietrowsky R, Rustenbach SJ, Kersting A, Herpertz S. Meta-analysis of the effectiveness of psychological and pharmacological treatments for binge eating disorder. Int J Eat Disord. 2010;43(3):205-217.
Last reviewed July 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 10/21/2014

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at healthlibrarysupport@ebsco.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.

Home |Terms and Conditions |Concerned About Privacy? |Accessibility |Careers |For Employers and Medical Plan Providers

You may also be looking for: CVS/pharmacy | MinuteClinic | Specialty Pharmacy | SilverScript | Accordant