By Neeru Bakshi, M.D., Adult Psychiatrist, The Moore Center
Among the myths about eating disorders is that eating disorders only affect teenage girls or young women. The truth is that eating disorders affect both men and women of all ages.
A 2012 study published in the “International Journal of Eating Disorders” found that about 13 percent of women over the age of 50 exhibited some symptoms of an eating disorder. And, a 2010 New York Times article stated that hospitalizations for problems caused by eating disorders grew by 48 percent in adults ages 45 to 64 between 1999 and 2006.
No one knows exactly what causes eating disorders, but oftentimes, eating disorders during middle-age can be triggered by a life-changing event. A person may have had some signs of an eating disorder throughout his or her life, but the eating disorder may not become full-fledged until after an event such as a divorce, kids leaving home, loss of a job, loss of a parent, menopause, or a combination of several stressful factors.
Because eating disorders can have serious health consequences, it’s extremely important that older adults seek treatment, particularly because the body becomes less resilient with age.
If you suspect that you, a friend, or a family member may be struggling with an eating disorder, please seek a complete evaluation from a physician, psychiatrist, dietitian, or therapist.