Older Women and Eating Disorders

Older Women and Eating Disorders featured image

Here’s a controversial finding about a problem we usually associate with younger women. A study in the International Journal of Eating Disorders finds many women over 50 practice unhealthy eating behaviors.

The researchers found that almost 4 percent report binge eating, and 8 percent report purging. More than 70 percent diet to lose weight and 62 percent say their weight or shape adversely impacts their lives. Other unhealthy behaviors aimed at weight control include taking diet pills, diuretics, laxatives and excessive exercise.

The researchers say the pressure to look good as we age may be perpetuating disordered eating practices well into older adulthood.

The study collected data on more than 1,800 U.S. women.

About 27 percent were obese, 29 percent were overweight, but 42 percent were normal weight and 2 percent were underweight. Two-thirds said they didn’t like their overall appearance, and about the same number thought about it daily. The researchers say it’s crucial to tailor treatments for Zoomer women because the body becomes less resilient to the effects of starvation, binge eating and purging as it ages. Psychiatrists say these findings are a big surprise and most professionals thought the problem was much smaller.

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