Bulimia is an eating disorder. People with bulimia are overly worried about their weight and body image. They binge and purge their food. Bingeing is eating large amounts of food. Purging is using vomiting, laxatives, or diuretics to get it out of the body. Exercise may be used to replace purging, or it may be used with it. The cycle is done to stop weight gain.
The cause is not known. It may be due to a mix of genes and the environment.
Bulimia is more common in young women. Other things that may raise the risk are:
Feelings of helplessness
Wanting to be perfect
Fear of gaining weight
Not being happy with weight and size
Pressure to be thin
Having other family members with the same problems
Bulimia nervosa. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/bulimia-nervosa. Accessed November 18, 2020.
Bulimia nervosa. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/psychiatric-disorders/eating-disorders/bulimia-nervosa. Accessed November 18, 2020.
Bulimia nervosa. Office on Women's Health website. Available at: https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/mental-health-conditions/eating-disorders/bulimia-nervosa. Updated August 28, 2018. Accessed August 31, 2018.
Eating disorders. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/eating-disorders/index.shtml. Updated February, 2016 Accessed August 31, 2018.
Harrington BC, Jimerson M, et al. Initial evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Am Fam Physician. 2015 Jan 1;91(1):46-52.
Last reviewed January 2021 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 04/14/2021
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