The research published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders shows that in women aged 50 and over, 3.5 percent report binge eating, nearly 8 percent report purging, and more than 70 percent are trying to lose weight. Overall, 62 percent said their weight or shape negatively impacted their life.
"We know very little about how women aged 50 and above feel about their bodies," said Cynthia Bulik, PhD, director of the Eating Disorders Program in the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. "An unfortunate assumption is that they 'grow out of' body dissatisfaction and eating disorders, but no one has really bothered to ask. Since most research focuses on younger women our goal was to capture the concerns of women in this age range to inform future research and service planning."
While eating disorders are more commonly associated with teens and young women, Bulik said doctors should be on the lookout for potential problems in older patients.
"Health care providers should remain alert for eating disorder symptoms and weight and shape concerns that may adversely influence women's physical and psychological wellbeing as they mature, she said.