Many Americans think eating disorders affect only upper-class white girls. But black girls are 50 percent more likely than their white counterparts to develop bulimia, according to a study led by Michelle Goeree, PhD, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Southern California at Los Angeles.

Bulimia is a disorder characterized by obsessive negative thoughts and feelings about body image and food, refusal to eat, binges, purges and excessive exercise.

However, being scary skinny isn’t a telltale indicator of bulimia.
“Most bulimics in fact are of average weight,” Goeree says. “Unless you were looking for certain signs, you would not know that someone was suffering from it.”

Adverse physical effects of bulimia can include damaged teeth and gums, bloating, dehydration and sores in the throat and mouth—all of which are linked to forced vomiting.

If you or someone you know is suffering from bulimia, contact the National Eating Disorder Association by calling 800.931.2237 or by visiting