Binge-eating disorder is not yet officially classified as a mental disorder, and not all experts think it should be. Mental health experts hope that ongoing research will determine if binge eating is a distinct medical condition, a nonspecific type of eating disorder, or simply a cluster of symptoms.

Binge eating is similar to bulimia nervosa, and some experts think it may be a form of bulimia. But unlike people with bulimia, who purge after eating, people with binge-eating disorder don't try to rid themselves of the extra calories they consume by self-induced vomiting, overexercising or other unhealthy methods. That's why most people with binge-eating disorder are overweight. In fact, some experts say that binge eating may be a type of obesity disorder.

Among the criteria for the diagnosis of binge-eating disorder set forth in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (DSMIV) are:.

  • Recurrent episodes of binge eating, including eating an abnormally large amount of food and feeling a lack of control over eating

  • Binge eating that's associated with at least three of these factors: eating rapidly; eating until you're uncomfortably full; eating large amounts when you're not hungry; eating alone out of embarrassment; or feeling disgusted, depressed or guilty after eating

  • Distress about your binge eating

  • Binge eating occurs at least twice a week for at least six months

  • Binge eating isn't associated with inappropriate methods to compensate for overeating, such as self-induced vomiting

Some people may not meet all of these criteria but still have an eating disorder. As researchers learn more about eating disorders, the diagnostic criteria may evolve and change.