Binge eating disorder (BED) is characterized by recurrent binge eating and marked distress in the absence of inappropriate compensatory behaviors for weight control. BED is prevalent in men and women, is associated with elevated psychosocial and functional impairment, and is associated strongly with obesity and related medical comorbidities. The aim is to provide a brief, state-of-the-art review of the major and recent findings to inform educational and awareness campaigns, stigma reduction interventions, as well as current clinical practice and future research. A narrative approach was used to synthesize emerging literature on the public and healthcare professionals’ knowledge and attitudes toward individuals with BED in comparison to other eating disorders (EDs) or mental illness. A total of 13 articles were reviewed. Nine studies investigated community samples and four studies investigated healthcare professionals. The reviewed literature suggested that BED is perceived by the public as less impairing, less severe, and “easier-to-treat” than other EDs. Attitudes and beliefs reflecting perceived blameworthiness and lack of self-discipline were ascribed to vignettes with BED. Community studies indicated a low level of public awareness that BED constitutes a discreet eating disorder. The literature on healthcare professionals’ knowledge and attitudes toward BED remains very limited. The few existing studies suggest encouraging trends in recognition and diagnostic accuracy, yet there remains a need for increased clinical awareness of BED-associated medical complications and knowledge of full BED diagnostic criteria.
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