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Reality star confesses to battling Bulimia

“The Hills Made Me Bulimic” declared Stephanie Pratt, a cast member of the MTV reality show, on the cover of the June 17, 2009 edition of US Weekly magazine. Stephanie, clad in a bikini, was featured alongside her startling proclamation. “The Hills” is a reality show on MTV set in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles, California. The show focuses on the lives of several young people living there.

Stephanie claimed she became bulimic in 2007 after watching herself on TV in a scene next to her thin co-star Lauren Conrad. Though Stephanie was a “size 0-2”, she claimed she was “horrified” and could not believe how “huge” she looked next to her co-stars. Stephanie began bingeing (up to 5,000 calories) and purging. Stephanie was quick to state that the show’s producers did not instruct her to lose weight – she made that decision on her own. The 23 year old Pratt claimed it was “embarrassing working next to skinny girls”.

In an MTV interview following the publication of the US Weekly issue featuring her on the cover, Stephanie proclaimed she did not become bulimic because of “The Hills”. She said it was her own issues with self-esteem that caused her bulimia. Indeed, Stephanie’s problems began long before she joined the cast of “The Hills”.

Mugshot of Stephanie Pratt

In the US Weekly interview, Stephanie revealed she started smoking marijuana at the age of 15 and was already a heavy drinker accustomed to blacking out. She also asserted she did other drugs but did not get specific. In the spring of 2006, Stephanie was working as a production assistant on ABC’s hit show “Lost”. On May 8, 2006, Stephanie was arrested outside of a Neiman Marcus in Honolulu, Hawaii. She had $1,300 worth of stolen merchandise on her person and in her bag. Upon further inspection, police also found drugs in her bag. According to police records, Hawaiian authorities charged her with second degree theft, “promoting a dangerous drug” in the third degree and “promoting a harmful drug” in the third and fourth degrees. According to Stephanie, due to the drugs in her system, she passed out after being arrested and was taken to the hospital. At this point, she called her parents back home in the Pacific Palisades, an affluent neighborhood of Los Angeles.

While it is unclear when Stephanie’s battle with bulimia began, it is clear she is a young woman who struggled with various painful issues and did not deal with them in a healthy manner. In her interview with MTV News, Stephanie said she participated in the US Weekly interview because she wanted to shed light on eating disorders and help parents recognize children with problems. Stephanie stated that she felt she could have received help “a lot earlier” if her parents knew what to look for.

Bulimia is a serious eating disorder that can be fatal. It is characterized by binge eating followed by purging and/or fasting. Purging is usually done via self-induced vomiting, the use of diuretics and/or the excessive use of laxatives (liquids, pills or herbal forms). Some bulimics also compensate by over-exercising and/or using diet pills.

Here are some Warning Signs:

  • using the bathroom frequently after meals
  • frequent fluctuations in weight
  • obsessive concern or preoccupation with weight and appearance
  • guilt or shame about eating
  • using the bathroom frequently after meals
  • frequent fluctuations in weight
  • obsessive concern or preoccupation with weight and appearance
  • guilt or shame about eating
  • secrecy surrounding eating (e.g. eating late at night, going out to get food, etc.)
  • storing food in hiding places
  • eating due to stress, shame or depression
  • eating unusually large amounts of food with no obvious weight gain
  • periods of fasting
  • excessive exercising
  • vomiting
  • sore throat
  • vomiting blood
  • person smells like vomit (they usually try to cover it up with mints, mouthwash or perfume)
  • abusing laxatives, diuretics and/or diet pills in an attempt to lose weight
  • depression or mood swings
  • feeling out of control
  • swollen glands in neck and face
  • heartburn
  • bloating
  • indigestion
  • constipation
  • dental problems
  • irregular menstruation
  • weakness and/or dizziness
  • exhaustion
  • bloodshot eyes

Medical Complications from Bulimia:

  • erosion of tooth enamel because of repeated exposure to acidic gastric contents
  • dental cavities
  • teeth sensitivity to hot or cold food
  • mouth sores
  • lacerations to the mouth or throat (caused by repeatedly inserting a finger or object to trigger the gag reflex)
  • callouses or scars on the back of the hands due to repeated insertion in mouth and cuts from the incisors
  • gastric reflux
  • stomach pain from overextension
  • stomach ulcers
  • inflamed esophagus
  • ruptures of the stomach and esophagus
  • abnormal buildup of fluid in the intestines
  • disruption in the normal bowel release function (gastroparesis)
  • electrolyte imbalance which can lead to an arrhythmia, cardiac arrest or possibly death
  • dehydration
  • chronically low potassium levels can lead to kidney failure
  • irregular heartbeat and in severe cases heart attack
  • decrease in libido
  • greater risk for suicidal behavior

A person with bulimia may exhibit one, all or any combination of warning signs and/or medical symptoms listed. People who have bulimia generally try to hide their bingeing and purging.

If you think you might be bulimic or suspect someone you know might be bulimic, please seek professional help for this very serious problem before it is too late.

US Weekly, June 17, 2009
MTV News, June 18, 2009