Who can become a bulimic?

Many people think that eating disorders affect only young, upper-class white females. It is true that most bulimics are women (around 85-90 percent). But bulimia affects people from all walks of life, including males, women of color, and even older women. It is not known for sure whether African American, Latina, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian and Alaska Native people develop eating disorders because American culture values thin people. People with different cultural backgrounds may develop eating disorders because it's hard to adapt to a new culture (a theory called "culture clash"). The stress of trying to live in two different cultures may cause some minorities to develop their eating disorders.

This answer is based on source information from The National Women's Health Information Center.

The majority of bulimics are female, adolescent, and from a high socioeconomic group. All westernized industrial countries have reported incidence of bulimia. An estimated 1 to 4 percent of females in the United States are reported to have bulimia. Adolescents who develop bulimia are more likely to come from families with a history of eating disorders, physical illness, and other mental health problems, such as mood disorders or substance abuse. Other mental health problems, such as anxiety disorders, or mood disorders, are commonly found in persons with bulimia.

Family, friends, and physicians may have difficulty detecting bulimia in someone they know because they binge and purge in secret. Often, they are able to maintain normal or above normal body weight, but hide their problem from others for years. Many individuals with bulimia do not seek help until they reach the ages 30 or 50 - when their eating behavior is deeply ingrained and more difficult to change.

Continue Learning about Bulimia

What You Need to Know About Bulimia
What You Need to Know About Bulimia
The signs of bulimia may not be as clear as you think. Unlike anorexia, people who have bulimia generally eat enough, or more than enough. However, af...
Read More
What medical complications are associated with bulimia nervosa?
Univ. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family MedicineUniv. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family Medicine
Bulimia nervosa can cause serious, even life-threatening, medical complications. Dehydration, heart ...
More Answers
Are bulimia and laryngitis related?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
Bulimia is an eating disorder in which people vomit frequently. The vomiting causes throat irritatio...
More Answers
Hilaria Baldwin Opens Up About Past Eating Disorders
Hilaria Baldwin Opens Up About Past Eating Disorders

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.