chapter  1
8 Pages

EPIDEMIC OF THE 80s

The authors who work in three different settings have been impressed with the marked increase in recent years of clients with eating disorders. We have been at self-help meetings for persons with eating disorders where as many as 150 have attended, some frantic with fear because their behavior was out of control, and others disturbed because they were being asked to change behavior which they saw no need to modify. The extent of the problem nation wide is difficult to measure,

partly because of different opinions as to the definition of an eating disorder. If we use periodic binging or gorging on food as a criteria, estimates are that as many as 67010 of the female population have an eating disorder (Polivy & Herman, 1985). With a more restrictive definition Halmi, Falk, and Schwartz (1981) found that 13 % of their sample of college students had all the major symptoms of bulimia. Of the 13 % who reported symptoms of bulimia, 87% were women. Even if we are cautious and take the most conservative estimations in the literature as to the extent of this problem, 4% of college aged women are victims. This means that the number of people who are suffering from this disorder is still very large.