Bulimia Nervosa Introduction
Bulimia nervosa is the episodic, uncontrolled binge eating of large quantities of food over a short period of time. It was originally described in the late 1950s as a pattern of behavior in some obese individuals. In the 1960s and early 1970s, it was recognized as a commonly associated feature of anorexia nervosa. Recently, it has been identified as a distinct disorder that occurs in persons of normal weight who are not obese and do not have anorexia nervosa. To establish the diagnosis of bulimia nervosa, the DSM-IV requires some form of compensatory behavior to prevent weight gain, such as purging. A number of normal-weight individuals engage in episodes of binge eating but do not engage in any compensatory behavior. The authors of DSM-IV elected not to include a separate diagnosis of binge eating disorder. However, the diagnostic and treatment considerations are the same for these individuals as for those who meet the full diagnostic criteria for bulimia nervosa.
Revision date: July 8, 2011
Last revised: by Janet A. Staessen, MD, PhD