Overeating Disorder

Though almost everyone overeats occasionally, overeating can become a serious health problem. This article explains more about overeating and overeating disorder. Keep reading to learn about health problems related to overeating and obesity and tips on avoiding overeating.

Overeating can be the result of bad eating habits or of compulsive overeating disorder. If teens can’t change their bad eating habits to avoid overeating, they may need medical help to stop overeating.

Overeating and teens

Most people overeat at Thanksgiving or when they’re at a pizza party, but some teens overeat on a regular basis. This can cause a teen to be overweight or obese, which often leads to health problems.

Some of the health problems related to overeating and obesity include:

  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart Disease
  • Kidney Disease
  • Bone loss
  • Arthritis
  • Stroke
  • Social withdrawal
  • Depression

Teens may overeat because they have developed bad eating habits. They eat more than they need to because they are bored, depressed, or simply not thinking about what they’re eating. Teens who are overeating should try to change their eating habits.

Good eating habits to avoid overeating include:

  • Don't eat while watching TV, surfing the Internet, or doing homework
  • Find things to do other than eating when you are bored
  • Families should try to eat meals together sitting at the table
  • Don’t use food as a reward
  • Avoid fad diets, especially those that restrict eating to very few calories or cut out necessary food groups - this usually causes people to crave what they are missing and overeat
  • Eat small meals throughout the day, or have healthy between-meal snacks like a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts. This will help you feel full and reduce the desire to overeat.
  • Don’t eat snacks right out of the bag or box. Instead, put a reasonable amount of the food in a bowl or on a plate, and when it is gone, stop eating or find a healthier food to snack on.

Compulsive overeating disorder

Some teens try to change their eating habits, but still find themselves overeating. They may turn to food for comfort when they feel stressed, sad, or inadequate and feel like they can’t stop themselves from eating at those times. These teens often overeat in secret and feel guilty about their eating problem. These are signs of compulsive overeating disorder.

A teen with compulsive overeating disorder is literally addicted to food and cannot control his or her eating behaviors. The teen may consume large numbers of calories well past the point where he or she feels full. He or she may obsess over food and spend time thinking about or planning when they will eat next.

A teen with compulsive overeating disorder needs help to overcome his or her addiction. Counseling may help, and, depending on the underlying reasons the person is overeating, medical procedures may also be necessary.

Overeaters Anonymous is a support group to help overeaters learn to control their compulsive eating. It is based on the 12 Step program, which involves acknowledging that you have a problem that is beyond your own ability to fix and looking to a higher power for help. Those who are not religious or don't believe in a higher power may have more success with a different kind of support group.

Most teens who seek treatment for compulsive overeating disorder are able to overcome their addiction and be in control of their lives again.


Nemours, TeensHealth, "What Can I Do About Overeating?" [online]
University of Pennsylvania, Office of Health Education, "Compulsive Overeating Disorder" [online]
Overeaters Anonymous [online]
Elizabeth Cohen, CNN.com Health, "Line Between Overeating and Binge Disorder is a Thin One" [online]

Related Article: Binge Eating Disorder >>