In the UK, it is estimated that two in every hundred women aged 15-45 have bulimia and 4-5% are partially affected. This means that body weight is normal but periods are mostly scanty and irregular, and she is probably subfertile. Bulimia occurs in women of any age and class. It often starts in the teens, though sufferers may not feel they have a problem until their 20s. In 70% of cases, the onset of bulimia is closely associated with the beginning or end of a first sexual relationship. A third of anorexics and obese women develop bulimia. Bulimia in men of normal weight is extremely rare.
The incidence of bulimia rises with increasing urbanization; it is 6.6 women per 100,000 rural women, and 37.9 per 100,000 urban women.