Eating disorders are common in older women, study shows
A first-of-a-kind study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders finds damaging eating disorders are common among women 50 and older — and 62% of those surveyed say their weight or shape has a negative impact on their lives.
A first-of-a-kind study looking at older women finds damaging eating disorders are common — and 62% of those surveyed say their weight or shape has a negative impact on their lives.
Historically, eating disorder research has focused on teens and young women, but the study out Thursday in the International Journal of Eating Disorders shows 13% of women ages 50 and older struggle with the problem — some for the first time in their lives. Eating disorders are more common in women than men and include purging, binge eating, excessive dieting and excessive exercising.
The researchers surveyed 1,849 women online from across the nation in attempt to find out how older women feel about their bodies and to estimate the prevalence of eating disorders. There are 53 million women in the USA older than age 50, the authors write, noting previous studies have reported a lower risk for eating disorders as women mature.
"The disorders have serious physical as well as emotional consequences," says lead author Cindy Bulik, director of the eating disorders program at the University of North Carolina. "Part of my goal is to make this an issue all doctors need to be aware of regardless of a women's age. Many think eating disorders end at age 25. They exist at every age, we're finding."