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Bulimia nervosa, more commonly known simply as bulimia or binge and purge disorder, is an eating disorder that affects 1 in 4 college-aged women in America, or 1 in 10,000 Americans. The most common misconception concerning bulimia is that it is simply a physical or mental problem. Many people do not understand that bulimia is a disease that affects both the mind and the body, and in its course can destroy both aspects of the diseased individual. Bulimia affects a variety of different people, but generally the victims will fall tend to fall into certain categories. Those at highest vulnerability to this disease are young adult females, ages 12 to 18. The disease, however, can start as early as elementary school, or much later in life. Others (such as athletes competing in sports such as ballet, gymnastics, ice-skating, diving, etc.) may also be pressured into starting bulimic habits. Males who perform in athletics such as wrestling and dance are at high risk for developing the disease as well. Victims of bulimia can often be linked to being victims of verbal, physical, and/or sexual abuse, though not all are. Bulimia may also contain ties to diseases such as clinical or manic depression. Bulimics often start out with anorexia (starvation and excessive exercising), or may turn to anorexia after being bulimic. Bulimia is marked by significant cycles in eating habits. Bulimics will often starve themselves (calorie/food/fat intake restriction -- sometimes with the help of diet pills or supplements) for extended periods of time prior to a massive binge, during which they consume abnormal amounts of food in a short period of time. These binges are followed by purging, which generally is constituted by self-induced vomiting. Other methods of purging the body include the use of diuretics, laxatives, and excessive exercising. Bulimics are generally within what is considered to be a "normal" weight range, but see themselves as being overly fat, or suffer...
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