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Eating Disorders Hitting Women Over 50, Study Finds
Date:6/21/2012

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, June 21 (HealthDay News) -- Although eating disorders are typically thought of as a problem among teenage girls, many women over 50 practice unhealthy eating behaviors, a new study indicates.

The researchers found that almost 4 percent report binge eating, nearly 8 percent report purging, more than 70 percent diet to lose weight and 62 percent say their weight or shape adversely impacts their lives, according to the report published June 21 in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

"Everyone -- especially health-care providers -- needs to erase stereotypes about who experiences disordered eating. Women well into their 50s and beyond still report struggling with weight dissatisfaction and a palette of unhealthy behaviors aimed at weight control," said lead researcher Cynthia Bulik, director of the University of North Carolina Eating Disorders Program.

"Our '70 is the new 50' society may be placing additional appearance pressures on women that perpetuate disordered eating practices well into older adulthood," she added.

These messages cause dissatisfaction and lead women toward extreme measures to achieve these "societally concocted ideals," Bulik said.

For the study, Bulik's team collected data on more than 1,800 U.S. women who took part in the Gender and Body Image Study.

Among these women, about 27 percent were obese, 29 percent were overweight, 42 percent were normal weight and 2 percent were underweight, the study authors noted.

About 8 percent of women said they purged in the last five years and 3.5 percent said they had binged in the past month, the investigators found. Most of these women were in their early 50s, but there were also women over 75, the authors said.

In addition, 36 percent of the women said they spent at least half their time in the last five years dieting, 41 percent said they checked their body
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