Eating Disorders throughout History

Although eating disorders first came to widespread attention in the 1970s, self-starvation and other pathological eating practices are found throughout recorded history. Bulimia was widely known in both Greek and Roman societies and was recorded in France as early as the eighteenth century. Self-starvation for religious reasons became widespread in Europe during the Renaissance, as hundreds of women starved themselves, often to death, in hopes of attaining communion with Christ. During the nineteenth century, as corpulence stopped being viewed as a symbol of prosperity, self-starvation became common again. The incidence of eating disorders varies widely among cultures and time periods, suggesting that they can be encouraged or inhibited by social and economic factors. Eating disorders have most often been seen in affluent societies and are rarely reported during periods of famine, plague, and warfare.

—Paula Kepos

Internet Resources

American Psychiatric Association (2001). "Men Less Likely to Seek Help for Eating Disorders." Available from <>

American Psychiatric Association. "Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients with Eating Disorders." Available from <>

Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders, Inc. (2002). "Males with Eating Disorders." Available from <>

Devlin, Michael J., and Walsh, Timothy B. (2000) "Psychopharmacology of Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating." American College of Neuropsy-chopharmacology. Available from <>

National Eating Disorders Association (2002). "Males and Eating Disorders." Available from <>

National Eating Disorders Association (2002). "What Causes Eating Disorders?" Available from <>

Renfrew Center Foundation (2002). "Eating Disorders: A Summary of Issues, Statistics and Resources." Available from <>

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Breaking Bulimia

Breaking Bulimia

We have all been there: turning to the refrigerator if feeling lonely or bored or indulging in seconds or thirds if strained. But if you suffer from bulimia, the from time to time urge to overeat is more like an obsession.

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