More Teens Are Reported Involved in 'Binge-Purge' Eating Behavior

Times Staff Writer

A surprising number of American teen-agers may be suffering from eating disorders, according to a recent study by Stanford University researchers.

The report found that 13% of the more than 1,700 10th-grade students surveyed acknowledged using binge-purge eating behavior as a means of weight control.

In fact, most of those teen-agers questioned reported some form of purging, according to Joel D. Killen and his Stanford colleagues, whose work appeared in the Journal of American Medical Assn.

An acute binge-purge habit is referred to as bulimia. The disorder involves a "self-perpetuating pattern of binge eating followed by fasting and/or various methods of purging, including self-induced vomiting and abuse of laxatives and diuretics," the journal stated.

The prevalance of such behavior is a concern to medical researchers because it can lead to serious complications. Some of the conditions precipitated by this eating pattern include tooth loss, stomach or esophagus rupture and breathing difficulties.

Purging Out of Guilt

The study also found that females were twice as likely to binge/purge as males. However, both sexes resorted to purging out of guilt after eating large amounts of food.

The Stanford research team stated that physicians with teen-age patients should look for signs of this increasingly widespread practice among high school-age students. Those teens with unconventional dieting regimens require instruction on "sensible weight loss methods" to prevent any further, more extensive damage, the report stated.

The research team attributed the upswing in the disorder's prevalence to the current emphasis on the "beauty, success and happiness (of) a thin body."

Taking Pizza Seriously--The appeal of ethnic foods has grown so rapidly over the last several years that many of these international specialities are now considered "typically American." This broad-based acceptance of packaged Italian, Chinese or Latino foods has translated into $21 billion in annual supermarket sales for the firms that market these items, reports Frost & Sullivan Inc., New York-based market analysts.

A recent study of the category found that Italian cuisine was, by far, the most popular with $2.5 billion in 1984 sales. Latino foods rung up $900 million and Oriental items brought in an additional $500 million at the retail level, the research firm found.

"Italian foods (constitute) the largest segment of the market," Frost & Sullivan said. "Many of these products have been around so long that they have lost their 'Italian image' and have become more integrated among other items (on) the supermarket shelf. By contrast, Hispanic and Oriental foods are often stocked in sections by themselves, generating greater ethnic impact."

Other foods mentioned in the survey include Greek, American regional (Creole, Southern), Jewish/kosher and vegetarian.

The success is not likely to taper off from its present level. Frost & Sullivan estimate that ethnic food sales will average an 8.5% annual growth rate through the end of this decade. By 1989, the category will reach the $31.6 billion sales level.

Package as Medium--Napkins are not just for catching meal tidbits anymore because of a recent promotion by the James River Corp., a paper products manufacturer.

The company announced recently that it was including dollar bill-size flyers in its paper napkin packaging that would provide tips for parents on how to prevent abduction and other crimes against children.

The program is meant to complement the many other ventures that print the photos of missing children on paper grocery bags and milk cartons.

The company said that a series a leaflets will be placed in more than 3.5 million of the firm's 140-count napkin packages.

Some of the napkin-based messages that James River encourages parents to discuss with children include:

--Don't wander unaccompanied in supermarkets or shopping malls.

--Stay away from adults who might be following in cars or on foot.

--Never get into a car or go anywhere without parental permission.

--Alert parents or teachers if someone asks you to keep a special secret.

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