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Obese men who binge are more likely to have high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol.

The word binging is mostly associated with women… probably thanks to Hollywood movies where the lead actress nurses her broken heart by tucking into a huge tub of ice-cream. However, in reality, men are just as prone to binge eating, although in men, consuming large portions is often considered macho. According to Yale University researchers, the difference is that obese men who binge are more likely than women to have high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Study lead author Tomoko Udo, Ph.D., Yale University associate research scientist in psychiatry, said that “men have generally been under-represented in studies of obesity and of binge eating disorder” as “people used to think binge eating was less common in men than women.”

The definition of binge eating disorder is the repeated and fast consumption of large quantities of food without some other compensatory activity, such as the vomiting seen in bulimia. People with binge eating disorder also report feeling of a loss of control over their eating.

For the study, which was published in Elsevier’s General Hospital Psychiatry journal, researchers examined 190 people (141 women and 49 men) who were seeking primary care treatment for obesity and binge eating disorders. They found that even after adjusting for race and body mass index, “men were three times as likely to meet the criteria for metabolic syndrome,” which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The researchers found few psychological differences between men and women with the disorder, but women were more likely than men to become overweight earlier and to try dieting earlier, while men were more likely to say that they “engaged in strenuous physical activity in an attempt to lose weight.”

According to Udo, primary care settings could be valuable in implementing interventions or in providing specialist referrals for obese patients with the disorder. She noted that currently, “primary care physicians may not understand that binge eaters may have psychological issues” and many doctors do not know their special needs.

Basically, a “one-size-fits-all” view of weight management may not help those who suffer both from obesity and binge eating. Treatment also needs to focus on preventing or treating serious medical conditions like high blood pressure.


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