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Eating Disorders Impact Women of All Ages

Younger women aren't the only ones with body image issues, our Washington University expert says.

Typically people assume that younger women are the main sufferers of eating disorders but a new study indicates that women over 50 also suffer from a variety of types of disordered eating.

The study in the International Journal of Eating Disorders assessed body image in 1,800 US women. The study found that 27 percent of women over age 50 were overweight, 29 percent were obese, 42 percent were normal weight and 2 percent were underweight. In assessing eating behaviors the study found that 4 percent of the women binge eat, about 8 percent purge after eating by either vomiting or over-exercising and 70 percent reported dieting to lose weight. 

Of more significance 36 percent spent at least half of their time in the previous five years dieting, 41 percent check their body size daily and 40 percent weigh themselves at least twice a week.

Finally, the study reported that the survey found that 62 percent of the women said their body weight negatively impacted their life, 79 percent report body weight affects their body image and 64 percent think about weight every day.

These facts may surprise you but for those women who struggle with their weight and their expectations for a “healthy” weight, these facts may give them pause to see that they are not alone. At the same time spending so much time on weight can often mean other aspects of life are losing out. If you want to lose weight or if you struggle with body weight expectations, stop letting this run your life and take charge by doing one of the following:

  • Make an appointment with a registered dietitian (RD) to assess your weight and set a plan for change. Find a RD in your area by visiting www.eatright.org and click on “Find a Registered Dietitian”
  • Visit www.choosemyplate.gov to learn about a healthier eating plan

If your focus on weight interferes with life you might benefit from talking to a specialist in the area of eating disorders. An RD or your physician can help you locate the right expert for your needs.

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