Bulimia: What Is It?

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by out-of-control eating offset by fasting, extreme exercise, or purging—voiding food by self-induced vomiting or other means. Children with bulimia, unlike those with anorexia, often maintain healthy weight—they can even be overweight—but the way they go about it is anything but healthy. Like anorexia, the vast majority of those diagnosed with bulimia are female, though actual prevalence in males is unknown. There is evidence that societal norms of appearance propagated through the media—the “beauty ideal”—could contribute to the prevalence of bulimia, which typically manifests in late adolescence or early adulthood.