Binge-eating disorder (BED) is associated with increased risk of multiple medical comorbidities.
People who have suffered from BED at any point in their life are at increased risk for a range of illnesses affecting the gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, circulatory, neurologic, respiratory, skin, genitourinary, immune, and endocrine systems.
In particular, individuals with BED are at risk for components of metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, elevated glucose and triglycerides, low high density lipoprotein levels) and related conditions such as diabetes mellitus and circulatory diseases. Importantly, several of these medical illnesses occurred in individuals with BED independent of the presence of obesity.
‘Binge eating disorder is underdiagnosed and undertreated relative to its estimated prevalence. Physicians can help screen the individual and refer them for appropriate treatment. ’
Senior author of this article, Dr. Cynthia Bulik highlights that "These results underscore the fact that individuals with BED experience a broad array of physical illnesses. BED is underdiagnosed and undertreated relative to its estimated prevalence. Primary care physicians are extremely well placed to screen, detect, and refer individuals with BED so that they can receive appropriate treatment for their eating disorder."
Primary care physicians are encouraged to recognize the symptoms of BED and use appropriate screening practices, as they may be the first point of contact for individuals with BED.
Dr. Bulik encourages clinicians to have the conversation, since there is a lot of shame associated with BED, patients might not always feel safe to talk about their eating behavior.
Accurate and sensitive screening can increase comfort in talking about binge eating. Prompt detection and treatment may help reduce illness severity, duration, and related health care costs. This research illustrates the need for clinicians who treat people with BED to work together with primary care physicians to ensure that their patients are receiving the psychological and medical care that they require.