Your abuelita (or your mother) might have an eating disorder!
Whenever I think of someone with an eating disorder, I picture a teen girl or young adult woman. Maybe it's a stereotype, but it's just where my mind immediately wanders. Although I know anorexia in males is on the rise, I still generally think of young girls who are under constant pressure to be skinny. I certainly have never thought of an older, wiser-seeming woman to have an eating disorder.
Apparently I'm really wrong there, though, since a new first-of-its-kind study has discovered that eating disorders among older women are common, too. I can't imagine by abuelita having an eating disorder but, according to the new research, it's actually very possible.
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The new study, published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, found that 13% of women over the age of 50 actually struggle with the problem of eating disorders and, most surprisingly, many of them for the first time in their lives. Plus, 62% of the women surveyed said that weight or shape has a negative effect on their lives.
So, basically, even if your mother or abuela isn't into purging, binge eating, excessive dieting and excessive exercising (the typical forms of eating disorders), she probably IS at the very least feeling bad about the way she looks. The study's lead author, Cindy Bulik, explains:
The disorders have serious physical as well as emotional consequences. Part of my goal is to make this an issue all doctors need to be aware of regardless of a women's age. Many think eating disorders end at age 25. They exist at every age, we're finding.
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I have to say, it really breaks my heart to see that our society has gotten to the point where even the women who are our wise elders are succumbing to pressure to always look perfect and skinny. I mean, in the study, "even in the 75-84 age group, they were still endorsing purging" as a way to "control their weight." That depresses me but I'm hoping that, now that we know that this problem is happening, doctors will start paying attention to their elderly patient's potential eating disorders. And hopefully so will families!
Are you worried that your abuela or mom will develop an eating disorder? Are you surprised by the growing number of older women with body image issues? Share with us in the comments below!
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