The Zoomer Report: Older Women and Eating Disorders

Here’s a controversial finding about a problem we usually associate with younger women. A study in the International Journal of Eating Disorders finds many women over 50 practice unhealthy eating behaviours.

The researchers found that almost 4 per cent report binge eating, and 8 per cent report purging. More than 70 percent diet to lose weight and 62 percent say their weight or shape adversely impacts their lives. Other unhealthy behaviours aimed at weight control include taking diet pills, diuretics, laxatives and excessive exercise.

The researchers say the pressure to look good as we age may be perpetuating disordered eating practices well into older adulthood.

The study collected data on more than 1,800 U.S. women.

About 27 per cent were obese, 29 per cent were overweight, but 42 per cent were normal weight and 2 per cent were underweight. Two-thirds said they didn’t like their overall appearance, and about the same number thought about it daily. The researchers say it’s crucial to tailor treatments for Zoomer women because the body becomes less resilient to the effects of starvation, binge eating and purging as it ages. Psychiatrists say these findings are a big surprise and most professionals thought the problem was much smaller.

Photo © Danicek

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Libby ZnaimerAbout The Zoomer Report
Libby Znaimer, a prominent Canadian journalist specializing in business, politics, and lifestyle issues, is producer and host of The Zoomer Report, a special feature on topics of interest to baby boomers and the 50+. It covers everything from health and wealth to leisure and volunteerism, from the special vantage point of the generation that has changed society in its wake.
Ms. Znaimer is also Vice-President of News and Information for Classical 96.3FM and AM740. Her first book, “In Cancerland – Living Well Is The Best Revenge” – was published in October 2007 by Key Porter.