A new study suggests that eating disorders are on the rise for older women. Once thought to only affect teens and young women, older and older women are reporting body dysmorphia, eating disorders and self-image problems.
The pressure to look perfect is something that many women struggle with, but there seems to be an extraordinary pressure placed on older women to appear younger and younger. Plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures have also seen similar increases. But the numbers are quite a bit higher than previously assumed.
Researchers at the University Of North Carolina Eating Disorder program conducted a study about women, body image and eating habits. Their findings were published in the International Journal Of Eating Disorders.
They also used several other unhealthy methods to drop weight, including diet pills (7.5%), excessive exercise (7%), diuretics (2.5%), laxatives (2%) and vomiting (1%).
Excerpt from Time Magazine
Some women in the study had lived with eating issues their entire lives, and others had an eating disorder when they were younger, then recovered and relapsed. But weight issues weren’t necessarily insecurities that women carried over from younger years, says Bulik — many developed eating disorders for the first time after 50.
For some middle-aged women, the triggers for eating problems included major life changes, such as divorce, loss of a spouse, becoming an empty-nester, kids coming back home and loss of a job. “A lot of women are facing financial uncertainty who never thought they would at this age,” notes Bulik.
Another driving force: the intense cultural pressure to look forever young. “As a society, we are placing so much pressure on women over 50 to not look like they’re aging,” says Bulik. “There are ads saying, You should buy these products or get this surgery or make these changes, so the world doesn’t have to see your wrinkles. It’s pushing women toward unhealthy weight-controlling behaviors.