There are plenty of behaviors which are bad for one’s health. Smoking and not getting enough exercise are two things which quickly come to mind. Binge eating. But are these disorders, or is it that their consequences can lead to disorders?
Is it that we create diseases to fit the profitable (and dangerous) cures? If binging is a disease, then so is anything done to excess. Recently binge eating, officially recognized as its own disorder in 2013 by the American Psychiatric Association, has received attention for a media campaign promoting the amphetamine Vyvanse to treat it. Retired tennis player Monica Seles has been hired by pharmaceutical company Shire as a paid spokesperson, appearing on talk shows from “Good Morning America” to “The Dr. Oz Show” to share her personal struggle with binge eating. And to plug Vyvanse.
One prominent eating-disorder specialist said that although Vyvanse showed promise, other treatments, like talk therapy, had more research behind them. And the use of Vyvanse is worrisome, with its classification by the federal government as having a high potential for abuse. In fact for decades, amphetamines, which suppress the appetite, were widely abused as a treatment for obesity.
“Once a pharmaceutical company gets permission to advertise for it, it can often become quite widely prescribed, and even tend to be overprescribed, and that’s a worry,” said Dr. B. Timothy Walsh, professor of psychiatry at the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University.