People with compulsive overeating (COE) will typically eat when they are not hungry and devote excessive amounts of time and thought to food. They may secretly plan or fantasize about eating alone. People with COE may sometimes eat in binges, but they may also engage in “grazing” behavior, during which they return to pick at food throughout the day. Compulsive overeating often leads to weight gain and obesity, but not everyone who is obese is also a compulsive overeater—and people of normal or average weight can have COE.
People with eating disorders often have coexisting psychological illnesses including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and personality disorders. In addition, COE and BED can lead to obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.