New eating disorder hits hardest in regional areas

A DANGEROUS new eating disorder could be affecting one in 20 Australians but people with it who live outside a capital city could struggle to find treatment.

Since May, binge eating disorder has been given formal recognition by the world mental health bible - the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Although only now listed as a formal disorder, experts suspect up to 5% of the population have it.

That makes binge eating more widespread than either anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.

The disorder is not the same as over-indulging, according to the Butterfly Foundation, it is a coping mechanism used to handle "some kind of emotional or psychological issue".

Symptoms include binge eating regularly, consuming large amounts in a short period and critically, these people have a "sense of lost control" while they eat.

Butterfly Foundation's Sarah Spence said the binge eating episodes could be triggered by stress, anger or distress.

"It really affects those of any economic background, age, culture or geographical location," Ms Spence said.

"The issue for people in regional or rural areas is that the frequency is just what it would be in metropolitan areas but receiving treatment is far more complicated.

"In regional or rural areas, the likelihood of finding treatment is quite low.

"They have to either come into capital cities or use our national support line so they can at least seek help."

If the Butterfly Foundation's estimate of 5% is accurate, it amounts to more than one million people nationally having to grapple with the disorder.

Unlike anorexia and bulimia which may lead to a person's thinning frame, binge eating can remain concealed indefinitely.

- APN Newsdesk


It is more than overeating; it is a psychological issue where a person may feel "out of control".

BED is treated not by a change of diet, but often by an expert who will treat the underlying cause.

Key to finding help is to first acknowledge the issue, then to seek help from a GP.

Or phone Butterfly Foundation on 1800 ED HOPE.

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