A new study shows that it is common for older women to have damaging eating disorders. A first of its kind study said that 62% of respondents to a survey said the shape of their body or weight has a negative impact in their lives.
Research on eating disorders historically has focused on young women and teens, but the this recent study released on Thursday shows that over 13% of women ages 50 or older struggle with eating disorders.
Some of the women experience the problem for the first time. Eating disorders in women are more common than in men. Disorders in women can include binge eating, purging, excessive exercising and over dieting.
Over 1,840 women were surveyed by researchers online from the entire nation to attempt to find out how women over 50 feel about their own bodies and to give an estimate to the amount of eating disorders that can be found in the group. There are over 53 million women in the United States that are age 50 or older said the authors of the study. Previous studies, said researchers, have said eating disorders have a lower risk as women get older.
The authors wrote that disorders could cause serious emotional and physical problems for women. Part of the research was to make sure doctors are aware that regardless of a women’s age, many women suffer from eating disorders and they do not go away when a woman reaches 25, as many doctors believe.
The current study used women who averaged 59 years of age. The questions on the survey were fill-in, opened ended and multiple choice about aging, body image, weight loss, eating, behaviors and attitudes. Seventy-nine percent of the women said their body shape or weight affected their self-esteem.