Does America Have A Binge Eating Problem?

Are you aware of your eating habits? here are some interesting facts about binge eating, overweight, and obesity.

With February 18th through the 24th being Eating Disorders Awareness Week, most of the focus will probably be on Anorexia and Bulimia. But research suggests that 60% of adult Americans are overweight, with about 1/3 of them being actually obese. Many of them have a binge eating disorder. Statistics indicate that as many as between 1 and 2 million Americans may have a problem with binge eating. This includes about 30% of the women who seek help to lose weight.

Overweight and obesity are not just adult problems. About 31% of girls and 28% of boys in America are somewhat overweight. Another 15% of girls and 14% of boys are actually obese.

Some causes of overweight problems and obesity include a more sedentary lifestyle, the fast food industry and “super-size” mentality, television, computers, and being able to drive at a younger age-because you’re using an automobile more and walking less-, and snack foods with high sugar and fat contents.

Binge eating is not a physical problem; although it causes many physical problems. One of the biggest problems that can arise from long term binge eating is Diabetes. Diabetes is on the rise, even in our young people. Overweight and obesity have been linked to it. Some other problems binge eaters may develop are back problems and problems with their knees. Heart problems also can be linked to overweight or obesity. Binge eaters often eat for emotional reasons. They sometimes eat secretly. Some binge eaters have a history of diet failures. They eat rapidly, and seemingly ceaselessly. They cannot stop eating during binges. These are the more extreme binge eaters.

But what about the not-so-extreme binge eaters? What about “cousin Nancy” who sneaks food after everyone’s in bed? Is she trying to fill a void left by something or someone else? I think the answer may be yes. Then there’s the working mom who subconsciously doesn’t know when she might get time to eat again, so unconsciously, her body tells her to “super-size”. Some victims of sexual abuse or rape use overweight to “protect” themselves. They think if they are unattractive, they won’t be approached.

There are many reasons we overeat and probably just as many for binge eating. Unfortunately, many of us are unaware that we are binge eating until we step on a scale, or we can’t get those jeans to zip, but they fit just fine last month. Some things that can make you overeat are stress, depression, anxiety, lonliness, and anger.

Since this is the week to be aware of eating disorders, maybe we should all try to be aware of what we are eating, and how we are eating; why we are eating. There are many good books on healthy eating available. You don’t have to starve yourself, or really give up a lot to eat healthy. Just changing a few habits can help you to lose weight, increase your health, and make you feel much better. Below are a few things I did to lose weight and get healthier.

  1. Switch from processed to whole grain whenever possible. Wheat bread instead of white, brown rice instead of white, long grain rice instead of instant.
  2. Eat more vegetables, fruits, and protein and less starches, sugars, and fats.
  3. Exercise regularly. I started by parking my car as far away from the door of the grocery store or other place of business I was using and walking the distance. Then I added regular walks in the morning at a local high school track. I progressed to three work-outs a week. Start at whatever is comfortable to you. But START…DO SOMETHING.
  4. The buddy system works great! Find a partner to walk or work out with.
  5. Keep a journal. Writing down your emotions when you are angry or sad, or when you feel overwhelmed is much healthier than numbing the emotion with food; and it has much fewer calories!
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