Sharon is a high school girl like many others. With encouragement from her parents, she studies hard, is on the honor role, the swim team, honor club and even finds time to volunteer in the community. Yet, on a Friday night, while her parents are out at a movie (her boyfriend, Todd, cancelled on her) she eats enough food for five people then makes herself throw up. This is not just pigging out. It’s symptomatic of an increasingly widespread eating disorder known as bulimia or the binge purge syndrome and it’s more prevalent than most realize. Bulimia, like the better known eating disorder anorexia nervosa, has its own unique characteristics, causes and effects that should be recognized and addressed by society.
First, the characteristics of bulimia involve bingeing on large quantities of junk food, followed by compensation by means of vomiting, laxatives or fasting. “The binge eating and compensatory behaviors must occur at least twice a week for 3 months. (APA, 1994)” (Morris, p. 389) This pattern is usually accompanied by an awareness that the eating pattern is abnormal, fear of not being able to stop voluntarily and self-depreciating thoughts.The victims of this disease are almost exclusively women between the ages of 16 and 25 who tend to be extraverted, successful perfectionists. “Estimates state that more than 5% of adult women and 15 – 20% of college women are bulimic.” (Claude-Pierre, p. 23) Physically they are usually at, or within ten pounds of their proper body weight. Other research “estimates that 4 to 8 percent of all adolescent females and up to 2 percent of adolescent males suffer from bulimia.”(Morris, p. 389)
A psychological trait of someone with bulimia usually includes a form of anxiety disorder called the obsessive-compulsive disorder. In the case of bulimia the person “feels personally ineffective and depends on others (Phelps & Bajorek, 1991). Feelings of vulnerability and helplessness apparently dispose

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