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Six hundred and twenty women who were currently practising self-induced vomiting to control their weight were identified with the help of a women's magazine. Nineteen women (3.1%) fulfilled diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa. Of the remainder, 499 (83.0%) fulfilled diagnostic criteria for bulimia nervosa, a recently described eating disorder. Of these, 56.1% practised self-induced vomiting at least once daily; the mean duration of vomiting was 4.5 years. Most women were of normal body weight. On standardised measures, 68.1% of women showed pronounced psychiatric morbidity and 89% had profoundly disturbed attitudes to food and eating. 56.4% thought they definitely needed medical help, though only 30.1% had ever discussed any aspect of their eating difficulties with a doctor. This study highlights the secrecy that surrounds bulimia nervosa and suggests that it is an important undetected source of psychiatric morbidity.


Journal article


Br Med J (Clin Res Ed)

Publication Date





1153 - 1155


Adolescent, Adult, Anxiety, Attitude to Health, Body Weight, Child, Depression, Feeding Behavior, Feeding and Eating Disorders, Female, Humans, Hyperphagia, Menstruation, Obesity, Vomiting