Background. Recent epidemiological data suggest a decline in bulimia nervosa (BN) incidence in primary care. We sought to examine BN point prevalence from 1982 to 2002 in a college population.
Method. In 1982, 1992, and 2002, 800 women and 400 men were randomly sampled from a university for a study of health and eating patterns. Participation rates were 72% in women and 63% in men, resulting in n=2491 participants.
Results. BN point prevalence decreased significantly in women over the period of observation. Eating Disorder Inventory Bulimia scores decreased across cohorts, and these decreases remained significant when male and female and Caucasian and non-Caucasian students were analyzed separately.
Conclusion. These data support a decline in BN rates that cannot be attributed to changes in service utilization. Changing socio-cultural factors may explain a true decrease in BN incidence and prevalence.