Eating Disorders Don't Just Affect Young Girls
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Eating disorders are mental health problems that mainly affect young girls and women between the ages of 12 and 25. But many people don't realize that they can also affect older women.
Types of Eating Disorders
Older women can have the same eating disorders as younger women. It is just not as common. They may have:
Why It May Happen
A number of things may be leading older women to have these problems. Some may be:
The Overall Impact
Eating disorders can make it hard to function at home and at work. It can also affect your relationships with others.
Over time, these problems can also harm the body and lead to:
Many women may not realize or admit that they have a problem. It may take a long time for them to get help. Once they do seek help, there may be times where they improve and then times when they fall into unhealthy habits, such as during times of stress. Treatment will involve healthy habits, medicines, and mental health therapy.
If you or a loved one are struggling with an eating disorder, seek help from a qualified counselor, doctor, or eating disorder clinic.
National Eating Disorders Association
National Institute of Mental Health
National Eating Disorder Information Centre
Women's Health Matters
Ackard DM, Richter S. Eating disorder treatment among women forty and older: Increases in prevalence over time and comparisons to young adult patients. J Psychosom Res. 2013;74(2):175-178.
Anorexia nervosa. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/anorexia-nervosa. Accessed November 3, 2021.
Eating disorders and women over 50. AARP website. Available at: https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-08-2013/midlife-eating-disorders.html. Accessed November 3, 2021.
Bulimia nervosa. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/bulimia-nervosa. Accessed November 3, 2021.
Eating disorder statistics. National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders website. Available at: https://anad.org/eating-disorders-statistics. Accessed November 3, 2021.
Health consequences. NEDA website. Available at: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/health-consequences. Accessed November 3, 2021.
Scholtz S, Hill LS, et al. Eating disorders in older women: Does late onset anorexia nervosa exist? Int J Eat Disord. 2010;43(5):393-397.
Last reviewed November 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Last Updated: 11/3/2021
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