Factors that increase your risk of bulimia may include:

  • Being female. Girls and women are more likely to have bulimia than boys and men are.
  • Age. Bulimia often begins in the late teens or early adulthood.
  • Biology. People with first-degree relatives (siblings or parents) with an eating disorder may be more likely to develop an eating disorder, suggesting a possible genetic link. It's also possible that a deficiency in the brain chemical serotonin may play a role.
  • Psychological and emotional issues. People with eating disorders may have psychological and emotional problems that contribute to the disorder. Examples include low self-esteem, perfectionism, impulsive behavior, anger management problems, depression, anxiety disorders or obsessive-compulsive disorder. In some cases, traumatic events may be a contributing factor.
  • Societal pressure. Peer pressure and what people see in the media may fuel a desire to be thin, particularly among young women. People who are in the public eye, such as actors, dancers and models, are at higher risk of eating disorders.
  • Performance pressure in sports. Eating disorders are particularly common among athletes, such as gymnasts, runners and wrestlers. Coaches and parents may unknowingly contribute to eating disorders by encouraging young athletes to lose weight, maintain a low weight and restrict eating for better performance.
April 03, 2012

You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.