An Unsuspected Road Hazard

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
July/August 2001 Volume 12, Number 4
©2001 Gürze Books

That erratic driver in front of you may not be using a cell phone; instead, she might be in the midst of bingeing and/or purging. New research has shown that some people binge eat and purge while driving. They apparently stuff themselves with food and vomit it up while driving their car.

In a recent study, Dr. James Mitchell, president and scientific director of the Neuropsychiatric Research Institute, Fargo, ND, found that 73% of 26 eating disordered patients who were selected because they admitted binge-eating at least weekly in their cars also admitted binge-eating while driving. Sixteen percent of those who binge-ate reported they followed this up with vomiting. Some pulled over to the side of the road first, but others used a container while keeping their eyes on the road.

According to Dr. Walter Kaye, of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, a car can be a perfect place for a person with bulimia nervosa or other eating disorders to hide their behavior. In fact, a car may be the most convenient place to be alone and to have some share of privacy. Although the study did not determine how many accidents might have been caused by bingeing in cars, 20% of this study’s participants admitted to unsafe driving due to their binge eating.

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