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J Nerv Ment Dis. 1988 Mar;176(3):144-52.

Bulimia in obese individuals. Relationship to normal-weight bulimia.

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Epidemiology Laboratory, McLean Hospital, Belmont, Massachusetts 02178.


We compared 23 obese subjects meeting DSM-III criteria for bulimia with 47 obese nonbulimic subjects and 47 normal-weight bulimic subjects using structured diagnostic interviews. The obese bulimic subjects were similar to the normal-weight bulimic subjects but different from the nonbulimic obese subjects in exhibiting a high lifetime rate of major affective disorder. However, the obese bulimic subjects were much less likely than the normal-weight bulimic subjects to use self-induced vomiting as a method of purging. These results suggest that obese individuals with bulimic symptoms may constitute a sizable but little-recognized population. Further studies will be required, however, to assess whether the syndrome of bulimia in obesity represents a valid diagnostic entity.

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