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Who develops bulimia nervosa?

Many myths exist about who develops bulimia nervosa and why. It can affect males and females, and people as young as 8 years old and as old as 60 years—young girls, college-age women, male and female athletes, middle-aged women. In Westernized cultures, bulimia nervosa is seen in upper, middle, and lower socio-economic classes. It does not discriminate by race-and occurs in whites, blacks, Asians, Hispanics and other races, and in people with widely varying educational backgrounds. The disorder is, however, more common in females; about 90% of people with a diagnosis of bulimia nervosa are female.

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Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder in which a person engages in binge eating (eating a lot of food in a short time) followed by some type of behavior to prevent weight gain from the food that was eaten. This behavior can take two forms: self-induced vomiting, misuse of enemas, laxatives, diet pills (called purging) and excessive exercise, fasting, or diabetic omission of insulin (called non-purging). Some people with bulimia nervosa may also starve themselves for periods of time before binge eating again. Bulimia nervosa has important mental, emotional, and physical aspects that require consideration during treatment.

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