Binge-Eating Disorder: 4 Questions to Ask

(DGIwire) – What’s the most common eating disorder in America—is it anorexia or bulimia? Guess again: according to Self magazine, binge-eating disorder (BED) affects more people than anorexia and bulimia combined. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), BED affects 3.5 percent of U.S. women, 2 percent of men and 1.6 percent of adolescents. Here are five important things to know about BED:

  • What is BED? BED is an eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food, often very quickly and to the point of discomfort, according to NEDA.
  • What are some of the accompanying symptoms of BED? According to the Mayo Clinic, accompanying symptoms can include the feeling that eating behavior is out of control; frequently eating alone or in secret; and feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty or upset about binge eating.
  • When was BED recognized as a disorder? In 2013, BED was finally categorized as a recognized and treatable diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) produced by the American Psychiatric Association. This was important since a diagnosis that can be documented leads to greater access to care.
  • What advances in treatment are on the horizon? Opiant Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a specialty pharmaceutical company, is studying the use of opioid antagonist nasal sprays for the treatment of various substance abuse, addictive and eating disorders, including BED. The company successfully created NARCAN® Nasal Spray, which is being marketed by its partner and licensee, Adapt Pharma, and is now studying other opioid antagonist nasal spray formulations. The company has planned a series of clinical studies to begin in late 2016 and going forward.

The brain’s reward circuitry is thought to be what regulates the occurrence of addictive behaviors such as BED. Increased levels of certain chemicals called neurotransmitters—such as opioids, endorphins and dopamine—activate the brain’s reward circuitry. However, it has been shown that a class of compounds called opioid antagonists can block the effects of these chemicals and make these types of behaviors less tempting to those who would otherwise obsessively engage in them.

“With eight million American lives impacted by BED, it is crucial that we focus on improving the standard of care,” says Roger Crystal, MD, Chief Executive Officer of Opiant Pharmaceuticals. “We believe opioid antagonists, whose effectiveness has been shown in other indications, may be useful in this area as well.”

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