People with bulimia nervosa consume large amounts of food and
then rid their bodies of the excess calories by vomiting, abusing
laxatives or diuretics, taking enemas, or exercising obsessively.
Some use a combination of all of these forms of purging. Because
many individuals with bulimia "binge and purge" in secret and
maintain normal or above normal body weight, they can often
successfully hide their problem from others for years.
When this activity occurs on average at least twice a week for
three months and is also accompanied by excessive concern about
body shape and weight, concern about bulimia nervosa is warranted.
Dieting heavily between episodes of bingeing and purging is common;
eventually half of those with anorexia will develop bulimia.
Bulimia typically begins during adolescence. The condition
occurs most often in women, but is also found in men. Many
individuals with bulimia, ashamed of their strange habits, do not
seek help until they reach their 30s or 40s. By this time, their
eating behavior is deeply ingrained and more difficult to
Adapted from National Women's
Health Information Center, 3/00
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substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a