• eating disorders;
  • bulimia;
  • adolescence;
  • epidemiology

Kaltiala-Heino R, Rissanen A, Rimpelä M, Rantanen P. Bulimia and bulimic behaviour in middle adolescence: more common than thought? Acta Psychiatr Scand 1999: 100: 33–39. © Munksgaard 1999.

Objective: Studies on the prevalence of bulimia and bulimic behaviour have focused on female populations from their late teens. This study assesses the prevalence of bulimia and bulimic behaviour in 14– to 16-year-old adolescents. Biological, sociodemographic and social correlates of these disorders are sought.

Method A self-report questionnaire was administered to pupils of the 8th and 9th grades of secondary school in four regions of Finland. In total, 4453 girls and 4334 boys aged 14 to 16 years participated. Results: Bulimia was detected in 1.8% of girls and 0.3% of boys. Bulimic eating behaviour was reported by 14.4% of subjects. Sociodemographic variables were not associated with increased risk. Bulimia was associated with being bullied by peers and higher than average weight in both sexes.

Conclusion: Bulimia and bulimic eating behaviour appear to be more common than was previously thought in middle adolescence, and also among boys. Bulimia deserves more attention in younger age groups than main risk groups so far considered.