What We Treat

Potential Causes and Risk Factors of Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating Disorder is often caused by a combination of biological, psychological and environmental factors. There is rarely one singular cause or contributing factor.

Biological Causes of Binge Eating Disorder

A history of weight fluctuation can place an individual at increased risk.

Research also hints at a possible connection between binge eating disorder, hormone irregularities and genetic mutations specific to food addiction. A Journal of Psychiatric Research study revealed a link between low levels of serotonin and binge eating behavior.

Behavioral Causes of Binge Eating Disorder

Many individuals with binge eating disorder report an extensive history of dieting, often dating back to their adolescent years. Dieting – and the restriction of food – can trigger hunger cues, often leaving one vulnerable to a binge. Furthermore, pressure to diet and maintain specific caloric intake can produce overwhelming feelings of stress, anxiety and shame can often trigger a binge.

Environmental Causes of Binge Eating Disorder

An individual whose self-worth is easily dictated by external influences can be at increased risk of developing binge eating disorder. This can include individuals who are the subject of frequent negative comments, bullying or body shaming, as well as body image concerns or low confidence largely driven by images on television or social media. Many times, individuals feel worthless as they are confronted with society’s focus on thinness and unrealistic ideals of beauty.

Emotional Causes of Binge Eating Disorder

The pre-disposing personality factors for binge eating disorder aren’t as evidently clear as factors for anorexia and bulimia, but there is a link. Assertiveness and low self-esteem are common, as well as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Others pre-disposing factors include a history of depression, anxiety and intense feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness.

Many impacted report a history of overeating, unhappiness and the inability to cope with feelings or respond well to stress. Poor body self-image can also be a trigger.

Genetics and Family History

There is evidence that binge eating disorder can run in families. Research from the Archives of General Psychiatry found that family members of obese individuals with binge eating disorder were twice as likely to suffer from the condition as were family members of obese individuals who did not have a history of binge eating.

Other Predisposing Factors Involved with Binge Eating Disorder

Traumatic events, deaths, separation, physical illness, tragedy, sexual and/or physical abuse, and bullying can often lead to binge eating disorder. Although the association isn’t as common as with other eating disorders, a history of substance abuse is linked to cases of binge eating disorder.

There is also an increased occurrence of childhood obesity among those with binge eating disorder.

Regain Your Life. Walden Can Help.

If you are concerned that you – or a loved one – may have an eating disorder, we are here to help. Please call 888-305-2997 to speak with a Walden eating disorders intake specialist, or complete the form on this page, to start the road to recovery.