Eating Disorders and Obesity

      An understanding of the relationship between obesity and eating disorders has grown in recent years. Obesity is characterized by an excessive amount of fat in tissues of the body. Body fat typically is estimated by the body mass index, calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. Persons with a body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or greater are considered obese.
      National Institutes of Health/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
      Clinical guidelines on the identification, evaluation, and treatment of overweight and obesity in adults.
      In 2007 and 2008, the prevalence of obesity among US adult men was 32.2% and among adult women was 35.5%, although the rate of increase in prevalence of adult obesity has slowed over the past 10 years.
      • Katherine F.M.
      • Carroll M.D.
      • Ogden C.L.
      Prevalence and trends in obesity among US adults, 1999–2008.
      In the past, obesity had itself been considered to be an eating disorder. We have learned, however, that most overweight and obese persons do not overeat in any distinctive pattern. For a smaller number, however, 2 clear patterns of overeating have been identified: Binge eating disorder (BED) and night eating syndrome (NES). Both disorders are more prevalent among overweight and obese persons than among persons of normal weight, and they contribute to the overweight of such persons.

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