Distribution and Incidence

Once considered to be extremely rare, the reported incidence of anorexia nervosa has more than doubled during the 1970s and 1980s (.Herzog and Cope-land 1985). The disorder is especially prevalent among adolescent and young adult women. Indeed 90 to 95 percent of anorectics are young and female, and as many as one in 250 females between 12 and 18 years of age may develop the disorder. Onset of anorexia nervosa occurs almost exclusively during the teens, although some patients have become anorectic as early as age 11 and others as late as the sixth decade of life. Patients are typically from middle- or upper-class families.

Anorexia nervosa is comparatively rare in men: Approximately 5 to 10 percent of anorectics are male. The clinical picture for male anorectics is also much different from that for women. In general, male anorectics tend to display a greater degree of psychopathology, are often massively obese before acquiring the disorder, are less likely to be affluent, and are even more resistant to therapy than their female counterparts (Garfinkel and Garner 1982).

Among American blacks, Chicanos, and first- and second-generation ethnic immigrants, there are few reported cases. However, this racial and ethnic distribution reflects socioeconomic status rather than racial characteristics (Herzog and Copeland 1985). Similarly, anorexia nervosa is confined to the United States, Canada, Western Europe, Japan, and other highly industrialized areas. The absence of the disorder in developing nations, and its high incidence among affluent social groups in Westernized countries have led many clinicians to classify anorexia nervosa as a "culture-bound" syndrome (i.e., a disorder that is restricted to certain cultures primarily because of their distinctive psychosocial features) (Prince 1985).

Breaking Bulimia

Breaking Bulimia

We have all been there: turning to the refrigerator if feeling lonely or bored or indulging in seconds or thirds if strained. But if you suffer from bulimia, the from time to time urge to overeat is more like an obsession.

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