Bulimia statistics indicate that the problem is growing in the United States -- and not just in women. People who study this condition are seeing the rates of bulimia increase among males. Furthermore, people (especially females) are developing bulimia at earlier ages and carrying it into the older adult years.
Bulimia affects approximately 1 percent to 3 percent of adolescents in the United States, with the illness usually beginning in late adolescence or early adult life.
Bulimia is much more common in females than in males. Only an estimated 5 to 15 percent of people with bulimia are male. However, recent studies have shown that incidence and prevalence rates are increasing among males.
Many boys with bulimia share the same characteristics as their female counterparts, including low self-esteem, the need to be accepted, an inability to cope with emotional pressures, and family and relationship issues. Males with bulimia are most commonly seen in specific subgroups. For instance, males who wrestle show a disproportionate increase in bulimia -- rates 7 to 10 times higher than normal. Additionally, homosexual males have an increased rate of bulimia.
Bulimia is often perceived to be an affliction of Caucasian girls and young women in middle and upper socioeconomic classes. Nevertheless, increasing numbers of cases are being seen in men and women of all different ethnic and cultural groups.
Girls and women from all ethnic and racial groups may suffer from bulimia. The specific nature of bulimia, as well as risk and protective factors, may vary from group to group, but no population is exempt.
Research findings regarding prevalence rates and specific types of problems among particular groups are limited, but it is evident that bulimia occurs in all cultures.