Navigation Links
Eating Disorders Can Last Well Beyond Teen Years
Date:12/28/2011

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia are typically thought to be diseases of young women and men. But researchers are finding that the personal demons that drive a young person to an eating disorder may linger into adulthood.

More and more middle-aged and older people are coming forward to receive treatment for eating problems that began in their youth and have been reignited by adult stress or personal crises.

"Some had actual eating disorders" when they were younger, and "others had aspects of an eating disorder but were never fully treated," said Dr. Ed Tyson, an eating disorders specialist in Austin, Texas. "Then something happens later in life that stresses them to a point where the eating disorder becomes engaged."

The Renfrew Center, which operates a number of eating disorder clinics in the United States, has seen a 42 percent increase in middle-aged female clients since 2001, said Holly Grishkat, senior director of clinical operations for the center's northeast region.

Unhealthy eating patterns adopted in adolescence or teen years often continue into adulthood, according to a University of Minnesota study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The study, which followed 2,287 kids as they grew into young adults, found that more than half of the girls had unhealthy eating patterns that continued into their mid- to late 20s.

That was the case with Alison Smela, 49, who lives in the Chicago area. When she was 12, she was given a weight plan to follow over the summer because she was considered overweight. Smela said she went back to school thinner, and people noticed approvingly.

"I got all kinds of attention, and I liked that," she said. "I equated losing weight with gaining attention."

Controlling her eating also helped Smela feel better when things seemed too much to handle. "When life got tough, I always knew I could control the scale," she said.

But as she grew more successful and climbed the corporate ladder, her anorexia spiraled out of control. So did her problem with heavy drinking.

"The more pressure I was under, the more titles I had, I wasn't dealing with the pressures of the job and of life in a healthy manner," she said.

Tyson said that eating disorders can be very devastating to the bodies at middle-age, when osteoporosis, chemical imbalances and other health issues crop up more easily and have an even more lasting impact on health.

"Older bodies do not have the plasticity that younger bodies do," he explained. "They can't tolerate the stresses and risks."

When Smela turned 40, she said, she decided to receive treatment for her alcoholism. She's now nearly a decade sober. But her eating disorder remained untreated, even though she knew she had a problem.

"I presumed alcoholism was more acceptable to society at my age," she said. "Having an eating disorder wasn't."

That's not an uncommon perception for middle-aged people with an eating disorder, Tyson said.

"They feel more peculiar because they're older," he said. "They think this is something for younger people, not for them. There's some shame associated with it."

Diane Butrym, 50, of Schenectady, N.Y., said such concerns are justified but must be surmounted. When Butrym went to the Renfrew Center for treatment eight years ago, she said, she found herself uncomfortable in the presence of the younger women struggling with the same problem she had.

"One of the parents said, 'Aren't you a little too old to be going through this?'" recalled Butrym, who still struggles with her eating disorder. "That was very embarrassing for me. It was really hard to overcome that."

The specific problems faced by middle-aged people with eating disorders prompted the Renfrew Center to create a separate treatment program specifically tailored to their needs, Grishkat said.

"The older women tend to mother the younger women and take care of the younger women in the group rather than taking care of themselves," Grishkat said. "The other thing we've noticed, the older women have a tendency to sit back and not say anything because they're ashamed. They feel like they should be the role models for the younger women."

What drives someone in midlife to seek help for an eating disorder varies. For Smela, who was 46 at the time she first went to the Renfrew Center, it was her reflection, she said.

"The summer before I went for treatment, I started catching glimpses of myself in a mirror or reflection, and I was scared," she said. "I saw my body as a whole, and it scared me."

But no matter what age they are, people who feel they have an eating disorder need to seek help, Grishkat and Tyson said. Talk to a doctor, contact the Renfrew Center or similar facility or reach out to the National Eating Disorders Association, the two experts suggested.

Treatment is particularly vital if the person has children, even if treatment will temporarily take them away from their responsibilities at home, Tyson said.

"Having an eating disorder makes their children have a 12- to 15-fold greater risk of having an eating disorder," he said. "They need to do the work and get better, or their children could be at risk."

More information

The National Eating Disorders Association has more on eating disorders.

SOURCES: Ed Tyson, M.D., Austin, Texas; Holly Grishkat, Ph.D., senior director, clinical operations, northeast region, Renfrew Center; Alison Smela, Chicago; Diane Butrym, Schenectady, N.Y.


'/>"/>
Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Eating Out Doesnt Have to Mean Excess Calories
2. Women with celiac disease suffer from depression, disordered eating
3. How to Survive the Holiday Eating Season
4. Treating High Blood Pressure May Add Years to Life
5. Moffitt Cancer Center researchers find potential target for treating metastatic cancer
6. Novel export-inhibitor shows promise for treating CLL
7. Beating superbugs with a high-tech cleanser
8. Treating Prehypertension Lowers Stroke Risk: Study
9. New approach to management of overeating in children
10. Stress reduction and mindful eating curb weight gain among overweight women
11. Novel approach to treating breast cancer shows great promise
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:10/13/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... October 13, 2017 , ... While it’s ... poses a problem. Fortunately, an inventor from Austin, Texas, has identified a solution. , ... medication in darkness or restricted lighting. As such, it eliminates the need to turn ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... PurhealthRX , a ... utilizing Purzorb™ technology. Applying the Purzorb™process to full spectrum CBD oil will revolutionize the ... a CBD form that can be easily incorporated into liquid products, while reducing costs ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... October 13, 2017 , ... Apple Rehab Shelton ... staged a mock evacuation of the facility as part of a disaster drill on ... Echo Hose EMS and Shelton City Emergency Manager, as well as the Connecticut ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Ellevate Network, the leading network for professional women, brought together ... equality at their inaugural Summit in New York City in June. The event was ... of over 3 million. To watch the Mobilize Women video, click here . ...
(Date:10/13/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Talented host, actor Rob Lowe, is introducing ... new episode of "Success Files," which is an award-winning educational program broadcasted on ... subject in-depth with passion and integrity. , Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/12/2017)... , Oct. 12, 2017 West ... in innovative solutions for injectable drug administration, today announced ... the market opens on Thursday, October 26, 2017, and ... results and business expectations at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time. ... or 253-336-8738 (International). The conference ID is 94093362. ...
(Date:10/10/2017)... -- NDS received FDA 510(k) clearance in May 2017 for its highly ... designed for endoscopy environments. An innovative secondary monitor solution, ZeroWire ... support the improvement of patient outcomes, procedural efficiency, and the lowering ... ... ...
(Date:10/4/2017)... 2017  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ... PhysicianOne Urgent Care is helping communities across Massachusetts , ... by offering no-cost* flu shots through the end of the month. ... insurance regulations. ... get a flu shot is by the end of October, according to ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: