Bulimia Facts and Bulimia Statistics
Bulimia statistics can be frightening at first glance and underscore the seriousness of bulimia nervosa and other eating disorders.
Bulimia Statistics: How Prevalent is Bulimia?
- The lifetime prevalence of bulimia nervosa among women is 1%-3%
- Lifetime prevalence among men is 0.1%
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Bulimia Facts: Who Becomes Bulimic?
Bulimia facts are hard to pinpoint as eating disorders have only recently started receiving serious study. Adoelscent women in industrialized countries who suffer from low self-esteem appear to have the highest risk for developing bulimia. Bulimia statistics suggest that cultural norms surrounding beauty and thinness can affect the development of bulimia, but race itself is not a factor. Facts about bulimia include:
- Bulimics are often normal to slightly overweight
- Bulimics overestimate their body's size
- One third of patients who present for treatment of bulimia nervosa have past histories of anorexia nervosa
- Median age of bulimia onset is 18 years
What Happens During Bulimia?
Many changes in the human body result from long-term bulimia. Because typically bulimics do not get as dangerously thin as anorexics, the physical damage may not be as severe, but does include damage to most body organs as well as severe tooth decay. Other bulimia facts include:
- Bulimics commonly have other mental illnesses such as depression or substance abuse
- Bulimics commonly have irregular menstrual periods and may become infertile
- 0-3% of women with bulimia eventually die from complications of the disease, although these numbers may be underestimated
Information on effects of bulimia.
Facts and Statistics on Bulimia Recovery
Bulimia statistics on recovery are some of the most sobering facts about bulimia. While most bulimics who receive treatment do go into remission, the incidence of relapse is extremely high and often some symptoms of bulimia still remain. Recovery statistics include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy reduces binge-eating, vomiting and laxative misuse by about 90% and as much as 2/3 stop binge-eating entirely2
- CBT shows improvement of symptoms within 6 months of initiation
- A specific form of cognitive behavioral therapy has been developed for the treatment of bulimia known as CBT-BN.
- Fluoxetine (Prozac) is the only antidepressant with clinical evidence to support its use in the treatment of bulimia, but other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are being studied
- 5-10 years following presentation, approximately 50% of all women with bulimia nervosa fully recover while 20% still have full bulimia nervosa
- Bulimics who receive ongoing treatment achieve greater remission rates than those who don't
(Bulimia facts and statistics provided by eMedicine1 unless otherwise noted.)
Last Updated: 14 May 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD