Binge eating can be easier to conceal from family, friends, and coworkers because it is often done alone, and in private. "It is eating when uncomfortably full, eating when not hungry, eating when emotional. It is that feeling of loss of control that separates it from just average overeating," Bedrosian says. "A good example for binge eating could be something that somebody does late at night after supper. They are alone in their apartment, they open the refrigerator and there is a quart of ice cream. They finish it and look in the cupboard and there is half a box of cookies and they finish the cookies."
While he hasn't seen any data to indicate that binge eating is prevalent in healthcare occupations Bedrosian says in "any population where there are more obese people there are probably more binge eaters."
Bedrosian identifies "two pathways" into binge eating.
"One of them is people eating to manage negative emotions or stress. When any group of people is under more stress then you are probably going to see an increase in all of the kinds of behaviors that people use to manage it," he says.
The other pathway is yo-yo dieting. "For some people, going on restrictive diets, or going long periods of time without eating or restricting calories actually triggers a binge," he says.