Eating Disorders on the Rise Among Middle-Aged Women – The Feminist Wire

Eating Disorders on the Rise Among Middle-Aged Women

Increasing numbers of middle-aged women are getting treatment for eating disorders, according to psychologist Dr. Gregory Jantz, internationally known eating disorder specialist, author and founder of the The Center for Counseling and Health Resources, a residential treatment facility in Edmonds, WA.

“We don’t know exactly why this trend is happening,” says Dr. Jantz. “It may have as much to do with increased rates of recognition and diagnosis of eating disorders in the middle-aged population as it does with an actual increase in the number of older women suffering from these disorders.”

Hard and reliable statistics haven’t been compiled yet, but one Pennsylvania practitioner estimated that the incidence of eating disorders among the middle-aged had increased more than 40 percent over the last 10 years. Anecdotal evidence from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia suggests that mental health workers are seeing more middle-aged women with eating disorders.

When a woman experiences an eating disorder in mid-life, it’s highly unlikely that it’s the first time she’s struggled with one. Some 94 percent of middle-aged anorexics, for instance, first had anorexia when they were younger. A woman who’s affected by an eating disorder in her 40s or 50s most often is dealing again with an issue that first surfaced at a more typical age — her teen years or early 20s. Still, it’s not completely unheard of for a woman to be struck with an eating disorder for the first time when she’s past the age of 40, 50 or even 60.

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