Self induced vomiting to lose weight is practiced by kids as young as 10

When this recent study came to my notice, a scene from popular TV show, Sienfeld came to my mind. In an episode, Jerry is shown dating a hot model, who seemed to have a monster appetite; making Jerry wonder all the time – How can she manage to keep off fat, when she eats tons at each meal?

But to Jerry’s surprise, he caught the woman in self-induced vomiting everything she had just gulped in dinner at the restraint wash room. So puzzled was Jerry with this incident that he asked in bewilderment: Why did she eat on the very first place?

[Excuse me if the above version has some inconsistency. It’s just a recollection]

Just like Jerry, the findings of the study made me ask the same: Why do people eat just to indulge in self-induced vomiting minutes after?

A recent study says that: some people indeed do this; and all for losing weight or stop from gaining weight. And the sad part is; it’s not adults but the children as young as 10.

According to a new study carried out for Taiwan’s Ministry of Education, of nearly 16,000 schoolchildren of 120 schools in Taiwan, children as young as 10 are making themselves vomit in order to lose weight and the problem is more common in boys than girls. The study found that 16 pc of the boys made themselves sick, compared with 10 pc of the girls.

Overall 13 percent of 8,673 girls and 7,043 boys who took part in the study; admitted doing this, which in their words is making themselves sick to lose weight. In simple this means, 13 out of every 100 children are using this method to lose weight.

But shockingly the figures were much higher in younger children, with 16 pc of 10-12 year-olds and 15 pc of 13-15 year-olds admitting to voluntarily vomiting to lose weight. But as the age of the respondents increased; the tendency of resorting to this weight loss method saw a decline. The figures fell to 8 pc in 16-18 year-olds.

The study is part of Taiwan’s wider research on health and growth, and primarily focused on children who said that they had tried to lose weight in the last year. The study further added that self-induced vomiting was most prevalent in adolescents who had a sedentary lifestyle, slept less and ate unhealthily.


Although, this may bewilder some or induce a risible feeling in others; Self induced vomiting is a real issue; once it has been pointed that children as young as 10 year olds are practicing it. Earlier, the prevalence of this unhealthy weight loss method was seen amongst models in very demanding fashion industry; where no fat is a norm rather than exception. But seeing the unhealthy practice, percolate to kids of the developing nations, who have just begun to savor the benefits of growth and money; should be considered alarming. Alarming because, if this is the situation of the developing world; what can be said of the rich nations; who have everything in plenty and every exposure good or bad at their disposal.

Just like developed countries; Obesity is a growing problem in industrialised, and fastly growing countries as well. Obesity is an increasingly important medical, psychosocial and economic issue which everyone has to deal with. It’s estimated that obesity among children and teenagers has nearly tripled over the last three decades and international studies have revealed worrying trends. Seld induced vomiting to lose weight is one of them.

Take this study from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for instance. According to the study published in 2010, 4 pc of students had vomited or taken laxatives in the last 30 days to lose or stop gaining weight. Many thousand miles far, an Australian study published in 2008 found that eating disorders had doubled in the last decade.

The good thing that came out of the Taiwan study is that although children as young as ten used vomiting to control their weight; they are also aware of the importance of weight control; Hence, if educated properly, unhealthy weight loss methods among kids and adults, like this one, can be easily discouraged.

As elders, we have to take responsibility to teach kids about importance of nutrition, right eating and encourage them to tackle any weight issues in a healthy and responsible way. Parents need to understand that practices like self-induced vomiting may not appear as a big issue; but as the study suggests it might serve as an early marker for the development of obesity and/or other eating and weight-related problems in the kid. Better correct it the better.