February 2007, a landmark clinical study by researchers at Harvard University was published in Biological Psychiatry and was soon picked up widely by the media. A survey of 3,000 participants found that 2.8 percent of them suffered from binge eating disorder (BED); that women were twice as likely to report binge eating; and that BED occurs across the age span, from children to the elderly. By extrapolating the statistics to the general population, health professionals estimate 5,250,000 American women and 3,000,000 men suffer from binge eating. The same month the study was published Jane Brody revealed in the New York Times that when she was a 23 years old, her food binges were so extreme that "Many mornings I awakened to find partly chewed food still in my mouth...."
Cynthia Bulik, director of the UNC Eating Disorders Progam, is a foremost authority on binge eating. BED can affect anyone, and can be caused by brain chemistry, genetic predisposition, psychology, and cultural pressures--but none of those triggers make giving in to food cravings inevitable. Crave helps readers understand why they crave specific foods, recognize their individual triggers, and modify their responses to those triggers. Binge eating disorder is highly treatable; 70% to 80% of patients at the UNC Eating Disorders Program triumph over their binge eating by using techniques to "curb the crave". Through the stories of some of these patients--men and women, young and old--and with the guidance of Bulik, readers will develop a variety of strategies to use in conquering their cravings and establishing healthy eating habits.