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A comparison of Bulimia and Anorexia

Updated on February 21, 2022
Nyamweya profile image

Nyamweya is a Kenyan scholar who has done many years of research on a diversity of topics.


Anorexia and Bulimia are the two most common eating disorders. Those who suffer from Anorexia tend to have an inherent fear of gaining weight as well as an unexplained incorrect view on how their bodies look. Such people therefore result in avoiding food or consuming little unhealthy portions which leads them to being underweight. Bulimia is almost similar to Anorexia, but Bulimia patients on the other hand, have a habit of binge eating then later trying to compensate the excessive food intake in unhealthy ways such as forcing themselves to vomit or over exercising. We live in a world today where people especially females are obsessed with self-image; it is no wonder that one in every ten Americans suffers from some form of eating disorder. Such people tend to be obsessively concerned with perfection, and often worry about what people think of their bodies. Historically, these eating disorders were associated with white females due to cultural preference of the slim body shape. They, therefore alter their eating habits as a coping mechanism. Serious as these conditions are, it is of concern that most people are either unaware of their existence or are still do not know that they are suffering from a condition widely categorized as a mental illness. This paper seeks to give the reader an insight to both Anorexia and Bulimia while highlighting the similarities and differences between the two.

Thesis Statement:

Bulimia and Anorexia are both severe eating disorders with inherent similarities and differences about symptoms, prognosis, causes, diagnosis and treatments


Anorexia also identified as Nervosa is a disorder whereby; those suffering from it avoid eating due to fear of gaining weight. The majority of those affected are young women. The condition is mainly characterized by a tendency to skip meals, stop eating altogether, or result in strict unhealthy diets due to their obsession with being thin or out of fear to gain weight. Anorexia mainly affects girls in their early teen years but can span through any age or gender. In addition to avoidance of eating or eating a substantially small portion of food, anorexics also have a tendency to be secretive about their restrictive eating routines. Anorexia patients are also said to engage in excessive exercises possibly due to the obsession with a “thin body image and fear of gaining weight”. Psychologically they suffer low self-esteem which might degenerate to depression. A distinctive feature in victims of Anorexia is their thin, underweight bodies. Anorexia is said to be common in young women and begins in the early teen years.

Bulimia (Nervosa) is a disorder whereby; victims undergo a stage of overeating to purging (avoidance of foods) owing to the fear of gaining weight. Similar to anorexia, it also affects mainly young women. Key features include behaviors of weight compensatory, negative perception of body shape, and binge eating. Victims suffering from Bulimia often see their body shapes as not appropriate and have an intense fear of gaining weight. The onset age for Bulimia is mostly late teen years. The key aspect that differentiates Bulimia from other eating disorders is the way victims suffer from “an obsession with food”. They have uncontrollable urge to feed heavily, immediately followed by guilt leading them to purge. Obsession with their body image and watching their body weight is a common occurrence in Bulimics. To compensate for their bad feeding habits they engage in “compulsive exercises”. Psychologically they suffer low self-esteem (since they have a negative perception of their image) and anxiety.

Treatment for Anorexia patients is better administered through hospitalization simply because the low diet intake can lead to organ failure in victims. This either means institutionalization or outpatient depending on the seriousness of the case. In addition trained person needs to be included to successfully administer treatment for Anorexia. These may include psychiatrists, dieticians, and therapists. Bulimia, on the other hand does not call for hospitalization because they often maintain average body weights. Bulimia patients get treatment from doctors, nutritionists, and therapists either as outpatients or inpatients. Bulimia and Anorexia patients often live in denial that they suffer a medical condition. It is, in fact, common practice to have glorifying Anorexia and Bulimia tendencies due to the media creation of a society obsessed with thin, lean and negativity towards overweight people.

Anorexia and Bulimia present a grave cause for concern that warrants a better understanding by the general masses. The two possess inherent similarities in some areas, as well as differences regarding how they manifest regarding prognosis, diagnosis, causes, symptoms, and treatment.

Both bulimia and anorexia are destructive eating habits. They have similar causes Anorexia and Bulimia have serious negative implications for the patients. Being that both are damaging eating disorders, they share a lot of similarities. Both Anorexia and Bulimia often cause various heart complications. These include a low heart rate, low blood pressure, and low palpations and generally may result in heart failure. Another similarity between the two disorders points back to stressful events, as the common cause of both Anorexia and Bulimia habits. Most persons who suffer low-esteem and in a society obsessed with ‘model’ bodies may cause such a person to develop an eating disorder.

The Biology of our gene makeup may be a big cause of resulting to an eating disorder. Scientists also point to bacteria in some people's intestines that trigger a feeling of being full, or lack of, and sending the message to the brain. Bulimia and Anorexia are both a common cause of negative brain and nervous system functions. This is especially common where the person suffers massive loss of weight leading to anxiety and depression. This may cause memory loss, light-headed, and mood swings. As a result of too much weight loss in both cases, patients may suffer various organ dysfunctions and various resulting health conditions. In both cases, fatigue, kidney failure, and anemia are likely conditions to result from the lack proper diet.

Both Bulimia and Anorexia as the most clinically acclaimed eating disorders vary in various ways as pointed out in the discussion. However, an in-depth look at both the conditions reveals more similarities than differences. These conditions have adverse effects on both the mind and body. Of concern altogether is that both Bulimia and Anorexia have negative implications regarding the way such people relate to food which is a worry.


Both anorexia and bulimia are serious eating disorders. Each condition differs regarding psychological and physical consequences, and as such, they should be identified early enough and treated differently. However, both should be addressed as a serious cause for worry within the masses. Seeing that both have a relatively early onset regarding age, more awareness needs to be created to counter their implications, and show people that there are alternatives to the media creations of a ‘perfect’ body.


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