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Compr Psychiatry. 2012 Feb;53(2):181-6. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2011.03.005. Epub 2011 May 6.

Bulimia nervosa in overweight and normal-weight women.

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Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


The aim of the present study was to examine overweight bulimia nervosa (BN) in a community sample of women. Volunteers (n = 1964) completed self-report questionnaires of weight, binge eating, purging, and cognitive features. Participants were classified as overweight (body mass index ≥25) or normal weight (body mass index <25). Rates of BN within the overweight and normal-weight classes did not differ (6.4% vs 7.9%). Of the 131 participants identified as BN, 64% (n = 84) were classified as overweight BN and 36% (n = 47) as normal-weight BN. The overweight BN group had a greater proportion of ethnic minorities and reported significantly less restraint than the normal-weight BN group. Otherwise, the 2 groups reported similarly, even in terms of purging and depression. In summary, rates of BN did not differ between overweight and normal-weight women. Among BN participants, the majority (two thirds) were overweight. Differences in ethnicity and restraint, but little else, were found between overweight and normal-weight BN. Findings from the present study should serve to increase awareness of the weight range and ethnic diversity of BN, and highlight the need to address weight and cultural sensitivity in the identification and treatment of eating disorders.

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