Medically Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on November 18, 2021

Weight Gain and Obesity

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If you eat a lot of food in a short amount of time on a regular basis, you might have binge eating disorder (BED). It can affect your health in a lot of ways, but two of the main risks are weight gain and obesity. Two-thirds of those with BED are obese, though average-sized people can have it, too.

What to Do About the Extra Weight

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Set a goal to shed those added pounds. You can reach a healthy weight with exercise, portion control, and smart food choices. But you might need a special program that also treats eating disorders. Your doctor can help you find the right one.

Type 2 Diabetes

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Overeating can lead to diabetes. That means your body can’t use the hormone insulin correctly, which makes your blood sugar levels harder to control. Over time, this can damage your kidneys, your eyes, and your heart.

How to Handle Your Diabetes

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The more you know about diabetes, the better you can take control of your condition. You’ll need to keep track of your blood sugar levels, eat a healthy diet, and get plenty of exercise. You may need medication to manage the disease, but not everyone does.

Depression and Anxiety

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Binge eating disorder often goes hand in hand with mood troubles. Doctors think many things can lead to BED, so it’s hard to say for sure that depression or anxiety cause it. But people who binge eat often feel shame and guilt about their problem. Most try to hide it.

How to Manage Mood Disorders

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Eat nutritious food, exercise, and get your ZZZs, because healthy habits like those can help you fight your anxiety or depression. But treatment for BED also might include sessions with a mental health professional, who could recommend talk therapy, antidepressant medications, or other medicines that can help treat binge-eating behavior.

Troubles With Digestion

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Long-lasting heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can also happen to people who binge eat. Those issues are often linked with weight gain and obesity, so doctors aren’t sure if the disorder itself or the excess pounds are to blame.

Treatment for Heartburn and IBS

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Heartburn that doesn’t get better can cause serious issues, including damage to your esophagus, the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach. See your doctor if you have it twice a week or more. They might give you prescription meds or tell you to see another doctor who specializes in digestion. For IBS, a healthy diet and cutting stress can help, but you may also need medication.

Gallbladder Disease

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Many health problems linked to BED -- obesity, high cholesterol, high triglycerides (fat in your blood), and yo-yo weight gain and loss -- also raise the risk of trouble with your gallbladder. That's the small pouch that sits under your liver. The most common problem is gallstones, the buildup of cholesterol or bile in the organ.

Treatment for Gallstones

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Your doctor might be able to remove them with surgery, or they may have to take out your gallbladder. Sometimes doctors prescribe a drug to dissolve gallstones, but that’s not a long-term solution.

Stroke and Heart Disease

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High blood pressure and high cholesterol are common with BED, and they can raise your chances of a stroke and heart disease. When your blood pressure stays too high for a long time, it strains your blood vessels. And high cholesterol can clog your arteries.

Make Heart-Smart Changes

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Stop smoking, lose extra weight, and exercise regularly to lower your blood pressure. Those same steps can lower your cholesterol, as will a diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Your doctor might also prescribe drugs to keep your BP and cholesterol numbers low.

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SOURCES:

National Eating Disorders Association: “Binge Eating Disorder,” “Health Consequences of Eating Disorders.”

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Binge Eating Disorder.”

Binge Eating Disorder Association: “Binge Eating Disorder Complications.”

American Diabetes Association: “Facts About Type 2,” “Taking Care of Your Diabetes.”

University of Michigan Depression Center: “Taking Care of Yourself.” National Alliance on Mental Illness: “Binge Eating Disorder.”

Peat, CM. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Nov. 2013.

Boyd, C. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, Aug. 2005.

American College of Gastroenterology: “Acid Reflux,” “IBS FAQs,” “Biliary Tract Disorders, Gallbladder Disorders, and Gallstone Pancreatitis.”

American Heart Association: “About High Blood Pressure,” “Prevention and Treatment of High Blood Pressure,” “Prevention and Treatment of High Cholesterol,” “What Your Cholesterol Levels Mean.”