Characteristics of binge eating disorder in relation to diagnostic criteria

Denise E. Wilfley, Leslie Citrome, Barry K. Herman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The objective of this review was to examine the evidentiary basis for binge eating disorder (BED) with reference to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - Fifth Edition (DSM-5) diagnostic criteria for BED. A PubMed search restricted to titles and abstracts of English-language reviews, meta-analyses, clinical trials, randomized controlled trials, journal articles, and letters using human participants was conducted on August 7, 2015, using keywords that included “binge eating disorder,” DSM-5, DSM-IV, guilt, shame, embarrassment, quantity, psychological, behavior, and “shape and weight concerns.” Of the 257 retrieved publications, 60 publications were considered relevant to discussions related to DSM-5 diagnostic criteria and were included in the current review, and 20 additional references were also included on the basis of the authors’ knowledge and/or on a review of the reference lists from relevant articles obtained through the literature search. Evidence supports the duration/frequency criterion for BED and the primary importance of loss of control and marked distress in identifying individuals with BED. Although overvaluation of shape/weight is not a diagnostic criterion, its relationship to the severity of BED psychopathology may identify a unique subset of individuals with BED. Additionally, individuals with BED often exhibit a clinical profile consisting of psychiatric (eg, mood, obsessive-compulsive, and impulsive disorders) and medical (eg, gastrointestinal symptoms, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes) comorbidities and behavioral profiles (eg, overconsumption of calories outside of a binge eating episode and emotional eating). Future revisions of the BED diagnostic criteria should consider the inclusion of BED subtypes, perhaps based on the overvaluation of shape/weight, and an evidence-based reassessment of severity criteria.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2213-2223
Number of pages11
JournalNeuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment
StatePublished - Aug 29 2016


  • Binge eating disorder
  • Diagnosis
  • Obesity
  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Psychopathology
  • Psychotherapy


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