It is estimated that between one and four percent of women in the United States (1.5 million to over 6 million women) will suffer from bulimia nervosa at some point in their lives. While mostly women are affected, men also bear a significant burden, with estimates showing between 100,000 and 1.5 million men suffer from the disease as well. The disorder primarily affects adolescent girls and young women, particularly those who are involved in activities or pursuits where a thin body type is idealized, such as modeling, dance, acting, and cheerleading among others.
Bulimia nervosa (usually referred to as bulimia) is an eating disorder where the affected individual will binge on food (consume a large amount of food in a short period of time) and then immediately try to purge the food from the body in an attempt to prevent weight gain. Purging is most often accomplished by vomiting, but can also be accompanied by laxative and diuretic abuse and excessive exercise.