Deputies respond to a local grocery store for a report of a petty theft. A young woman had been detained by management after entering the store's bathroom with a shopping basket containing several food items; she had left the bathroom empty handed 35 minutes later. In the trash can employees had found the wrappers of a box of a dozen Entenmann's Country Powdered Donuts, a pint of Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream, and two TWIX Caramel Cookie Bars. The rest of the evidence, shall we say, was flushed. The suspect, Katie, was sobbing, very ashamed, and extremely remorseful. Katie, a student at a local community college, related that she suffered from bulimia. She had not intended to engage in theft while in the store, but became overwhelmed by anxiety and had an unignorable craving to eat the sweets. She then was compelled to rid herself of the calories and had induced vomiting in the employee's bathroom. Katie 19 years old, 5'7" and weighed more than her DL indicated, 150 lbs vs. 135 lbs. She was more than willing to pay for the loss, but states she was too embarrassed to go to the checkout stand with the empty containers. The cost of the theft was just over $10.00. Katie had consumed 4016 calories in just over a half an hour. She was cited for petty theft; but perhaps a more appropriate charge would have been for vandalism, as she never actually left the store with the items. In fact, the merchandise exited the store by a device installed by the merchant. One of my partners suggested the charge should have been for illegal dumping. All kidding aside, bulimia nervosa is a complicated and potentially deadly psychiatric disorder.
You are hungry, you eat. You feel satiated, you stop eating. Sounds simple enough; but not to the 10 million Americans who have eating disorders. An individual with an eating disorder eats or refuses to eat to satisfy emotional not physical needs. He/she consumes insufficient or excessive amounts of food. The three main types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder, which is also referred to as a compulsive overeating disorder. These disorders manifest themselves as abnormal eating patterns, which can have severe medical and emotional consequences. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness; without treatment (20%) of people with serious eating disorders will die. Unfortunately, only 1 in 10 people with eating disorders will receive the treatment they need.
Bulimia is the most prevalent eating disorder; affecting 1 in 7 females aged 12-25. Ten percent of college aged women in the Unites States have engaged in this dangerous eating disorder of binging and then purging. Only 10% of individuals diagnosed with bulimia are male. The peak onset for bulimia is between the ages of 16-18. Unfortunately the physical and psychological consequences of the disorder are immense, including death related to medical consequences or suicide. There are two types of bulimia nervosa: purging and nonpurging. A purger regularly engages in self-induced vomiting (90% of all cases) or abuses laxatives (50-100 tablets at a time), diuretics, or enemas. A nonpurger uses other inappropriate compensatory behaviors such as fasting, severe diet restrictions, diet pill abuse, or excessive exercise.
The normal food intake for women and teenagers is between 2,000-3,000 calories per day. Bulimic binges average approximately 3,400 calories in 75 minutes. However, some bulimics consume up to 20,000 calories in binges that can last up to 8 hours. 20,000 calories is the equivalent of: 100 Krispy Kreme doughnuts, 4½ gallons of vanilla ice cream, 10-13 cakes, or over 8 pounds of potato chips. You do the math, binges can be very expensive. Now add the costs for emetics (syrup of Ipecac), laxatives, diuretics, enemas, and gym memberships, and it's clear why many young women may resort to stealing or fraud to support this highly addictive disorder.