BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Eating disorders were thought to most commonly occur among the young people, but new studies suggest that three percent of middle-aged women are also affected by them. Divorce, financial problems, or distress in life causes thousands of women in their 40s and 50s to develop eating problems.
Studies performed at the University College, London, show that one in 100 women aged between 15 and 30 is suffering from an eating disorder, such as anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating. However, many more may be remaining silent about their ordeals. The new study focused on 5,300 women between 40 and 60 and revealed that almost 15 percent of them suffered of eating disorders throughout their life and three percent during the past years.
This study shows that such disorders are not specific to the first decades of life. Many of these women admitted that this was the first time they had spoken of these problems of theirs, this showing the barriers they have towards resorting to medical help in such situations.
The aim of the study was also to assess possible factors that triggered the apparition of such diseases. These factors included unhappiness in childhood, parental divorce or separation, disturbing life events, defective parental relationship, and sexual abuse. The risk of a woman to suffer from eating disorders is increased by 4 to 10 percent if she reports being unhappy during childhood.
Also, a good relationship between mother and daughter decreases the risk by 20 percent. Researchers think that all these factors should be made public so that eating disorders should be easier to diagnose in middle-aged women reluctant to ask for help.
Christopher Fairburn, professor of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford, admitted that this was the first time when they encountered statistics on eating disorders in middle-aged women. He thinks that everybody should be aware of the causing factors and the stigma should be lift off, thus more women may seek for help.
The stereotype pictures a woman suffering from such disorders as young, therefore so many medical practitioners did not even think of older women being affected by anorexia or bulimia. This also explains why so many middle-aged women did not seek for help and denied the fact that they had a problem. The study is meant to raise awareness on these disorders and help all women overcome them.
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