Eating Disorders in Older Females – The New Normal

There has been a lot of talk in recent years about the issue of body image and eating disorders affecting teenagers and young women, but you may be surprised to learn of another group that is also highly affected: older women.

A study on eating disorders in older females was conducted at the University of North Carolina Eating Disorders Program. The goal was to better understand how women 50 and over view the issue of body weight and shape, and found out the problem is prevalent among this group. The researchers wrote “eating disorder symptoms, dieting and body checking behaviors, and weight and shape concerns were widely endorsed” among the 1,849 women who participated in the study.

Out of these women, a whopping 62% admitted their weight and shape has negatively impacted their lives and 79% of them said it has affected their self perception.  In addition, 70% were attempting to lose weight with a variety of methods, including unhealthy ones such as diet pills (7.5%), excessive exercise (7%), diuretics (2.5%), laxatives (2%) and vomiting (1%). While 3.5% of the women admitted to binge eating at least once per week, 8% went the length of purging “in the absence of binge eating” within the last five years. Over all, 13.3% of them reported eating disorder symptoms.

So what does this study highlight? The authors concluded that “Focused research on eating patterns in this age group is necessary to develop age-appropriate interventions and to meet the developmental needs of an important, growing and underserved population.”

Are you among this group of women, or do you know anyone 50 and over struggling with body image problems or eating disorders? Let us know in the comment section below.

To learn more about the study, click here.

Image: Preachers of LA (Oxygen Network)

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