Correlates of Bulimia Nervosa: Early Family Mealtime Experiences

By Miller, Debra A. F.; McCluskey-Fawcett, Kathleen et al. | Adolescence, Fall 1993 | Go to article overview

Correlates of Bulimia Nervosa: Early Family Mealtime Experiences


Miller, Debra A. F., McCluskey-Fawcett, Kathleen, Irving, Lori M., Adolescence


Bulimia nervosa, only formally recognized by the American Psychiatric Association in 1980, is a disorder in which an individual rapidly consumes an unusually large amount of food. This "binge" is terminated by vomiting, laxative abuse, abdominal pain, or sleep, and is seen by the individual as abnormal and distressing (American Psychiatric Association, 1980). This condition is also associated with a strong drive to remain or become thin, as well as a preoccupation, even obsession, with food and eating (Boskind-White & White, 1983).

Reports of the prevalence of this disorder vary widely. In a recent epidemiological report, Fairburn and Beglin (1990) analyzed the incidence data on bulimia nervosa from over 50 publications. They found reports of the prevalence of bulimia in adolescent and young adult women to range from 1% to 35%. Fairburn and Beglin believe that these marked discrepancies are due to a number of factors, including nonstandard diagnostic criteria, self-report data, and sampling procedures. They conclude that bulimia nervosa is probably truly present in only 1% of the population of adolescent and young adult women. Other recent reports, however, suggest that the incidence is between 4% and 8% of young women (Heatherton & Baumeister, 1991). Although these percentages are relatively low, they do represent a large number of young women who are suffering from this serious, sometimes life-threatening psychiatric disorder.

Although bulimia nervosa has received a great deal of attention in the lay press and from clinicians and researchers, there is still remarkably little consensus as to the origins of the disorder. Theories span the continuum of causation from those which are primarily biological (Mitchell & Eckert, 1987) to the heavily sociocultural (Irving, 1990). Markedly absent from many of these theoretical explanations is the developmental history of the individuals with this disorder (Attie & Brooks-Gunn, 1989). For most bulimics, the onset of symptoms does not occur until middle to late adolescence. This late onset has tended to focus investigation of etiology on the adolescent stage rather than on possible earlier childhood precursors. The other issue of possibly critical importance in undercovering the origins of this disorder is why food becomes the focus for these young women as opposed to other types of self-destructive behaviors, such as alcohol abuse or sexual acting out. A brief review of the major theories on the origin of this disorder is useful in examining these issues.

Several reports suggest that there may be a genetic risk for anorexia nervosa, but no such data are yet available on bulimia nervosa (Mitchell & Eckert, 1987). Studies of the basic psychobiological factors involved in bulimia nervosa are equally inconclusive (Mitchell & Eckert, 1987). Treatment studies have, however, demonstrated some limited success in the use of psychotropic drugs, particularly antidepressants, in the alleviation of bulimic symptomatology (Mitchell & Eckert, 1987). Reports of family histories of alcoholism and other addictive behaviors and the presence of depressive and anxiety disorders suggest possible biological origins (Strober & Humphrey, 1987). To date, however, relatively little empirical data support a purely biological basis for bulimia.

The physical changes during adolescence were implicated as a causal variable in eating problems in early adolescence in a two-year longitudinal study by Attie and Brooks-Gunn (1989). The rapid onset of weight gain during the pubertal transition period was suggested as a possible "triggering event" for eating problems, particularly for adolescents with negative body images. The authors postulate that early attempts to control the pubertal weight gain by dieting, coupled with poor physical self-image, may lead to the development of seriously disordered eating patterns in later adolescence.

Cognitive-behavioral models have also been espoused. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Correlates of Bulimia Nervosa: Early Family Mealtime Experiences
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.