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Race & Bulimia

April 16, 2009

Black girls from poor families are more likely than wealthy white girls to suffer from bulimia.


Un-stereotyping eating disorders. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Eating disorders like bulimia are often associated with wealthy white girls. But surprisingly, black girls are much more likely to be bulimic than white girls, and girls from poor families are more vulnerable than wealthy girls. This according to University of Southern California economist Michelle Goeree. Her team found the patterns in a ten-year survey of 2,300 girls’ eating habits.

MICHELLE GOEREE (University of Southern California):
A lot of other studies that look at eating disorders, at least in my experience, only have information about women who were in some sort of treatment process. (:11)

… Treatments like psychiatric care and rehab, which are expensive and often uninsured. That may be why girls from wealthy, white families have been disproportionately visible patients. Goerre says that bulimia prevention and education programs may need to be retooled to reach a wider audience. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.