This disorder is present in the majority of people who suffer from Bulimia Nervosa and in half the people who suffer from Anorexia Nervosa, while it is usually absent in people affected by Binge Eating disorder.
Occasional vomiting seems to be a weight control technique which is rather widespread among women between the ages of 15 and 35, even if they have no specific food disorders. Studies made in Europe and USA have underlined the fact that roughly 10% of women in this age bracket say they provoke vomiting occasionally and 2% vomit once or more per week.
Methods used by these people to provoke vomiting range from manual or mechanical stimulation of the throat and of the zone behind the tongue (done with cutlery, wands, toothbrush, tongue depressor) to the ingestion of large quantities of fizzy drinks and abdominal compression obtained manually or with different objects.
In this way patients believe they are eliminating almost all effects on weight increase. In reality recent studies made in Pittsburgh (USA) have demonstrated that with vomiting you eliminate roughly 50% of eaten calories.
Actually, a patient vomiting after a high caloric binge assimilates, despite vomiting, caloric quantities equivalent to a big meal.
Vomit has effects, however, that are very harmful to patients' food behaviour.
We have noticed that when eating disorder patients begin to provoke vomiting the binge number starts increasing in a staggering way, because the patients believe they have found a magic wand that allows them to eat what they want without risking gaining weight. Vomiting seems to have a tranquillizing effect that strengthens their abuse.
The habit of provoking vomiting is not free from complications for the health of people that use it.