Bulimia statistics

Richard Kerr's picture

While statistics show that certain types of people are more likely to suffer from bulimia, it is important to remember that absolutely anyone can develop bulimia at any point in their life. 

Like all other eating disorders, bulimia does NOT discriminate against gender, age, religion, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality or level of intelligence.

Worryingly statistics have shown that new cases of bulimia appear to be increasing rapidly, especially when compared to the incident of anorexia which seems to have remained fairly constant over time. Let’s take a look at some of the main bulimia statistics.

Bulimia Statistics

  • Bulimia is usually found among white Caucasians, however this is changing.
  • 95% to 98% of people with bulimia tend to be female.
  • 64% are near a normal weight range.
  • 84% have some form of College Education.
  • An average binge is said to happen around 11 times a week.
  • Bulimia is more likely to begin in teenagers.
  • It is thought that the number of woman suffering from bulimia tripled between 1988 and 1993.
  • Children as young as 6 years have been known to develop bulimia although it is rare in people under the age of 13.
  • More than one in three “normal dieters” progress to severe dieting. Frequent dieters are 18x more likely to develop an eating disorder.
  • The amount of men with bulimia has increased dramatically in the past ten years.
  • Although bulimia can be very harmful many people do go on to achieve full, life-long recovery.
  • Conservative figures show that 150,000 women die each year from "dieting related causes".
  • The average fashion model is 5'9" to 6' tall. The average American woman is 5' 4" tall.
  • The average fashion model weighs 110-118 pounds. The average American woman weighs 142 pounds.

Most statistics relating to bulimia continually indicate that the highest rate is found among young women who are aged between 12 to 25 years and who live in the Western society, where ‘dieting’ is common.

Statistics on bulimia and diets

One study showed that 44% of middle school girls who frequently read articles about dieting were twice as likely to try fasting and dieting and were 3x more likely to try self-induced vomiting than girls who didn't read the articles.

Frequent dieters are 18x more likely to develop an Eating Disorder

Research shows that people who diet frequently are five times more likely to develop an eating disorder then those who don’t diet, however those who dieted frequently were eighteen times more likely to develop an eating disorder than those who did not diet.

The same study also showed that children are more likely to develop an eating disorder if they have a sister or mother who dieted.

It has also been scientifically shown that students who entered the USA from another culture are more likely to suffer bulimia if they absorb western views on diet and beauty.

Statistics and research studies have also helped to shed light on:

The links between Bingeing and dieting

The links between bingeing and dieting have been known for some time now. When people diet and ignore hunger signals their bodies kick off a primitive and complex survival mechanism that helps keep them alive.

This includes food obsession, powerful cravings for calorie dense foods, food hording and extended taste response. All of which can of course lead to bingeing.

Research has shown that girls who diet frequently are twelve times more likely to binge than girls who don't diet at all.

The limitations of bulimia statistics

Statistics are very useful. They can help us to explore patterns in the development of bulimia as well as helping us to get a better understanding of the factors that can contribute to its onset.

However we must remember that even statistics have their limitations.

Sometimes when health authorities calculate bulimia statistics they only include certain groups of people. For example their figures may only include people who have received in-patient care for their bulimia or perhaps only people who have recently developed bulimia.

This means that data is often conflicted and confusing.

Another massive limitation in regards to bulimia statistics is that they only highlight "known suffers".

This means that those people who don’t seek help for their bulimia won’t be included in any of the statistics at all.

So it is always important to consider how accurate statistics are in relation to the realities of bulimia. While there is still stigma and shame attached to having bulimia we may never fully understand its true extent.

The information provided in this website is for information purposes only. The information on this website is NOT a substitute for proper diagnosis, treatment or the provision of advice by an appropriate health professional. Please refer to the full disclaimer and copyright. If you do think you might suffer from an eating disorder, it is important that you talk to your General Practitioner, as there are many physical complications that can arise from being at an unhealthily low weight or from losing weight very quickly, or from purging. We advise you to seek professional help with working on an eating disorder.


Copyright © BulimiaHelp.org. 2013. All rights reserved.