Older Women: The Modern Image of Eating Disorders

Nov 25, 2015 05:56 PM EST | By Jeanell Sumagpao

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It might be hard to admit for some but weight has always been a measure of beauty around the world. A thin waistline is what every girl wishes to have when she reaches adolescence.Thus, eating disorder is common to teenagers. Though teens and young adults are more likely to experience Anorexia or bulimia, moms and older women are also at risk for this severe health ailment.

A study released in the International Journal of Eating Disorders found that 13% of women age 50 and older revealed that they are experiencing signs of eating problems such as bingeing, purging, diet pills consumption or doing extreme exercises to drop pounds.

The National Institute of Mental Health defined eating disorders as "An illness that causes serious disturbances to your everyday diet, such as eating extremely small amounts of food or severely overeating." A woman suffering from this sickness may lose control over her diet. It may show through taking noticeably smaller meal than usual every day or excessive eating.  

Bulimia, Anorexia and Bingeing disorders are some of the most common types of this life-threatening disease. This can be cause by the combination of emotional, psychological, behavioral, and social and behavioral aspects of one's life. 

Though eating disorders are now common to both young and old women, causes of what trigger them might vary depending on age. According to Stacey Rosenfeld, PhD, clinical psychologist in Los Angeles and writer of Does Every Woman Have an Eating Disorder? Challenging Our Nation's Fixation with Food and Weight, "Women of any age might adopt disordered eating patterns to gain a sense of mastery over stressful situations. For a teenager, that stress might be associated with puberty-induced bodily changes, divorcing parents, or the daunting high school-to-college transition. For adults, their bodies are changing from pregnancy or menopause, they're going through a divorce, they have a newly empty nest, or they're facing retirement."

Eating disorders are curable, yet experts believe that it may be challenging for adults since most often coming out and seeking for help should begin from them compared to young women and girls who have their parents to encourage them to seek additional help from specialists.

Rosenfeld suggested that older women should consult professionals as early as possible to prevent other conditions to impair their health.  "It's time to rein things in with the help of an expert. Ask your gynecologist or primary health care practitioner for a therapist referral, or visit AEDweb.org or BEDAonline.com to locate a specialist in your area. Medical complications of anorexia (like weakened bones and heart damage) are exacerbated in older women, so don't delay seeking help at the first sign of symptoms."

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