Eating disorders emerging in over 50s

eating disorderNew research shows a rise in people over 50 developing eating disorders.When people think of eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, most assume it is a condition that only afflicts young girls or students.

Eating disorders are now becoming more prevalent among women aged over 50 due to the pressure they feel to stay young and beautiful.

In turn, this pressure turns into low self-esteem, anxiety and body dismorphia, which are all factors that contribute to eating disorders.

Plus the fact that older celebrities still look great leads to more pressure on older women to look the same.

As a result of these factors, eating disorders among women aged over 50 years have increased by 42 per cent over the last 11 years.

Eating disorders at any age are detrimental to the sufferer's health but older women are at risk from osteoporosis, heart, liver, gastro-intestinal and digestive problems and depression.

Due to the consequential health problems associated with eating disorders, women over 50 account for the most deaths from anorexia or bulimia if they do not seek or are given any help to deal with their control and mental health issues.

In the US, a study into eating disorders among older women was conducted and published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

It found that 13 per cent of 1,849 women polled that were aged over 50 years were suffering with an eating disorder - many for the first time.

The study also found that 62 per cent of the women asked believe their weight or figure has a negative impact on their lives, which are worrying statistics.

Lead author Cindy Bulk, director of the eating disorders programme at the University of North Carolina, is quoted by USA Today as saying: "The disorders have serious physical as well as emotional consequences.

"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."

Detecting eating disorders in older women can be harder than looking for the signs in teenagers as they can hide it better and won't be seen every time they eat.

The main signs include excessive exercising and dieting and binge-eating followed by a purge.

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