US scientists have found that black girls are 50 per cent more likely than white girls to suffer from the eating disorder bulimia.
Around 1.1 million people are affected by eating disorders in the UK, according to the national charity Beat, and estimates suggest that around four per cent of women have bulimia at some point in their lives.
The widespread perception is that bulimia is most common among privileged white teenagers, but the latest study from the Universities of Southern California (USC) and Maryland and Universitat de Autonoma Barcelona in Spain questions this theory.
USC researcher Michelle Goeree revealed: "As it turns out, we learned something surprising from our data about who bulimia actually affects, not just who is diagnosed.
"The difference between public perception and our results is striking."
Their study found that African Americans are actually 50 per cent more likely than white girls to be bulimic, while girls from low-income families are 153 per cent more at risk than those from high-income families.