Causes and Risk Factors
Causes of BED
The exact causes of BED are not completely understood. However it is believed to result from a combination of psychological, genetic/biological, and social/cultural factors. (Read more)
- Depression has been linked to binge eating in some people. It is estimated that about 50 percent of people who binge eat have been depressed at some point in their life.
- Stressful events, such as moving to new job or school, death of a friend or relative, moving to new place or house can sometimes cause people to binge eat.
- Low self-esteem, loneliness, and body dissatisfaction may also contribute to binge eating.
- Some other emotions such as anger, boredom, worry, anxiety or sadness may also trigger binge-eating episodes.
- The abnormalities in hormones or brain function can contribute to binge eating. For example, the hypothalamus, which is involved in controlling our eating behavior, may send wrong signals about hunger and fullness resulting in uncontrolled eating. Research suggests that alterations in brain chemicals like serotonin may also contribute to binge eating.
- The peripheral hormones such as leptin and insulin, cholecystokinin, glucagon-like peptide-1, peptide YY(3-36), and ghrelin are involved in the signals of hunger and fullness. Research suggests that BED is related to a dysfunction in the ghrelin signaling system.
- Other biological systems that play role in BED are the opioidergic and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) systems. The opioidergic system appears to be responsible for a subtype of obesity associated with BED.
- Researchers have also found a genetic mutation that appears to cause food addiction.
In many societies there is an unwanted importance given to thin people. Therefore, in some people, social pressure of achieving a thin body can conversely make them to start binge eating. Such people have a feeling of shame and guilt, which may further fuel their emotional eating.
The Binge Eating Cycle
People who binge eat show a particular pattern of behavior known as ‘the binge eating cycle’ as shown below