Famous Binge Eaters

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Introduction

Binge Eating, like Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa, is a common mental health disorder where the sufferer is obsessed with food. Often indicative of some other deep-seated issue, it is a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; a sufferer will compulsively consume a large amount of food in a very short space of time. Many celebrities have gone public about their conditions in order to raise awareness and encourage understanding, and perhaps to attempt to do something about it

1. Victoria Beckham

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The former Spice Girl and now wife of David Beckham speaks candidly in her autobiography Learning to Fly about how she and the rest of the band were put under pressure (especially Geri Halliwell and Mel C) to lose weight in order to conform to an ever-critical media. She starved herself, came very close to being anorexic and then her body started to fight back against the impossible diet and she binge ate. In one section of her autobiography, she discusses eating ten bowls of cereal in one sitting

2. Oprah Winfrey

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Winfrey has always had a problem with her weight; as one of America’s top black, female figures, she has come under a lot of scrutiny for the constant changes of her weight. Her show often features people who have overcome hardship such as eating disorders and she has tried a whole host of diets to keep her figure. After one particular trashing by the media, Winfrey ate a massive 30lb of macaroni and cheese. Once Winfrey realised that she had a number of underlying problems, she was able to come to terms with her illness

3. Kara DioGuardi

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A number of former American Idol stars have come out in recent years to talk about their eating disorders following success on the show, but the condition is not limited to the contestants. This former judge has freely admitted to pigging out when she felt low and the problem became so bad that she eventually entered into hospital for treatment for it. She now says that focussing on her music as well as the treatment she received, helped her to recover

4. Monica Seles

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The former tennis ace who was famously stabbed on court became a virtual recluse for over two and a half years after the incident. She put on 30lbs and was criticised once again by the world’s press. Around the same time, she lost her father to cancer. Seles took nine years to recover from her binge eating mental health issues; today she openly admits to the fact that food was her crutch, her best friend, the only reliable thing she had in the world ‘ this is common amongst sufferers.

5. Kate Winslet

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Winslet has arguably been under the most scrutiny during her career. She lost weight for Titanic and over the following years because known as a curvy actress especially after giving birth. Her mother and father were both professional chefs so inevitably she carried extra weight as a child. The bullying she suffered at school made things worse for her and she took to binge eating. Today, Winslet has come to terms with her issues and largely seems to brush off comments about her weight

6. Demi Lovato

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As another high profile celebrity, Demi Lovato revealed in 2012 at the age of just 19 that she had had eating disorders through her teenage years including bulimia and binge eating. She is one of those young celebrities who has already been in rehab for mental illness, having been diagnosed with bipolar disorder while there, and feels that her eating disorders will never truly go away. In a candid interview following rehab, she confessed to feeling that she was fat and feeling ashamed of it from a very young age

7. Rae Earl

Sharon Rooney as Rae Earl in My Mad Fat Diary

Not famous until she published her semi-autobiographical book My Mad Fat Diary, it is about a young teenager girl in Scotland ‘ heavily overweight ‘ as she goes through the struggles of teenage life, boys, peers, schooling and more. UK channel E4 dramatised the book in 2011, making a star of actress Sharon Rooney as she acted out the events from the book, told in diary form. Partly hard-hitting, partly amusing and a surprise hit amongst all age groups, it has helped raise awareness of binge eating

8. Richard Simmons

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Often the silent victims of any eating disorders, men also suffer from anorexia, bulimia and other mental health conditions concerning food. Now a famous aerobics icon in the USA, Simmons had it all: as a child he was a binge eater, later on in life he tried to starve himself thin. Only when his Doctor asked him if he wanted to live or die did something snap inside him and make him realise that he had to put his health first

9. Renee Zellwegger

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Zellwegger has always been a slight woman who enjoys exercise. It is commonly known that many actresses are asked to lose weight for roles but sometimes, they are asked to bulk up to fit the character they play. This is what happened to Zellwegger when she played chic-lit heroine Bridget Jones in the films based on the books. Friends expressed concern that she had put on too much weight too quickly and might have affected her long-term health

10. Elvis Presley

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The greatest singer of all time in all likelihood suffered from binge eating at a time long before the condition was identified as a serious mental health problem or as a mental health problem at all. This wasn’t his only problem though; it is likely that he was bipolar, a substance abuser and a manic depressive. Elvis put on a lot of weight in his final years and this took a massive toll on his health

Conclusion

Only recently have experts identified Binge Eating as a real psychological illness. Health services report it as a problem most common to young women but not all sufferers are young and not all sufferers are women (around 40% of sufferers are male). With body dysmorphic disorder on the rise in the male population, health professionals expect that the number of male sufferers will increase over the coming years

 

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