For much of the 30 years that bulimia has been recognized as a psychiatric disorder, experts have believed that unlike anorexia, bulimia was purely a psychological issue, and not also a physiological one. Bulimics were thought to be generally normal weight people who have an extreme phobia about weight gain.
But recent research, published this month in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, has cast doubt on that assumption, and could serve as a motivational tool for bulimics struggling to recover. A study out of Drexel University in Philadelphia found that among two different sets of people studied, one over a period of 20 years and the other for two years, one surprisingly accurate indicator of how patients with bulimia will fare is the discrepancy between their past all-time high weight and their current weight. The larger that discrepancy, known as “weight suppression,” is, the more likely patients are to gain weight while their bulimia continues.
Nutritionist Marcia Herrin and Nancy Matsumoto, co-authors of The Parent's Guide to Eating Disorders, Gūrze Books. Marcia is also author of Nutrition Counseling in the Treatment of Eating Disorders.