Middle-Aged? You Can Be Bulimic, Too

It's not just for teenagers and young women anymore.  Sadly, anorexia and bulimia are striking middle-aged and older women, too.

A friend whose daughter recently married confided that, while she had lost seven pounds for the wedding (and this woman is thin), she found that, after the wedding, she'd eat something, see how many calories it was, then go work out for that exact same amount of calories so she didn't gain weight.  "I couldn't stop," she said.  "I see how you can get obsessed."

In a recent study, women 60-70 were asked about their eating behaviors, weight history and how they felt about their bodies.  A shocking 90% said they felt very or moderately fat, and over half reported being dissatisfied with their bodies.

You have to remember, we live in a culture where thinness to the point of boniness is prized, and these days, 60-year-olds want to look like 40-year-olds.  If they can't quite meet that goal, why not starve yourself?

Women in middle age and older face different challenges than younger women, admittedly.  Some divorce at this age, and if they're looking for another partner, they're often competing with women 10 to 20 to 30 years younger.  (Doesn't that make you want to run to the fridge for some Ben & Jerry's?  And then, 1,000 push-ups?)

Surprisingly, the women in this survey had BMIs of 25, which is only slightly higher than the normal-weight BMI of 23 that's recommended.  So these women were not fat.  And over 80% of them said they watched their weight.

Here's the most shocking part: four percent of the women (18) met the diagnostic criteria for eating disorders.  According to psychcentral.com, one had anorexia nervosa, two had bulimia nervosa, and 15 had symptoms of an unspecified eating disorder that did not meet the criteria for anorexia or bulimia. In addition, another four percent of the women (21 overall) reported a single symptom of an eating disorder, such as using laxatives, diuretics, or vomiting to lose weight, or binge eating.

Fox News reports that doctors have seen an increase of 42% in this age group with the disorder. 

Experts say eating disorders can rear their heads again if women have not overcome them in their teens and 20s, and many middle-aged women start when they are experiencing life changes, such as divorce, empty nests, and infidelity.


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