Eating Disorders Not Just Young Woman’s Disease

Jul 09, 2004 06:35 AM EDT

According to recent reports doctors in the US are noticing increasing numbers of women in their 30s, 40s and 50s who have eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.

Scientists have found that many of these older women have similar contributing factors and stressors—loneliness, poor self-esteem, isolation and a drive for perfection—as teenagers with eating disorders.

Statistics are scarce

Unfortunately, statistics are scarce and it is unclear how many older women have developed eating disorders. Experts suspect that many who develop disorders have fretted about their body image and weight for most of their lives.

Also, since the conditions rose to prominence in the 1980s, many anorexics and bulimics have grown from troubled teenagers and young women into middle age while still struggling with the psychological disorders.

Older women not able to endure physical effects

Doctors stress that middle-aged women may not be able to endure the physical effects of eating disorders as well as younger women. Osteoporosis, easily bruised skin, thinning hair and heart problems are among the health problems caused by anorexia. Bulimia can lead to complications such as severe tooth decay and gastrointestinal problems.