University of North Carolina Study Shows Eating Disorders Are Common Among Older Women

Eating orders are usually thought of as impacting teenagers and young women. But a new study led by Cynthia M. Bulik, director of the Eating Disorders Program at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, finds that eating disorders are common among older women.

The study, published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, found that 62 percent of women over the age of 50 said that their weight or shape negatively impacts their life. More than 70 percent of older women stated that they are trying to lose weight. Some 3.5 percent of older women reporting binge eating and 8 percent reported purging themselves after eating. More than 7 percent said they used diet pills.

“The bottom line is that eating disorders and weight and shape concerns don’t discriminate on the basis of age,” concluded Bulik. “Health care providers should remain alert for eating disorder symptoms and weight and shape concerns that may adversely influence women’s physical and psychological wellbeing as they mature.”

The full article, “Eating disorder Symptoms and Weight and Shape Concerns in a Large Web-Based Convenience Sample of Women Ages 50 and Above: Results of the Gender and Body Image (GABI) Study,” can be accessed here.

Dr. Bulik received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Notre Dame. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in psychology for the University of California at Berkeley. She is the author of The Woman in the Mirror: How to Stop Confusing What You Look Like With Who You Are (Walker and Company, 2011).

Here is a video showing Dr. Bulik discussing the study on eating disorders among older women.

Filed Under: Research/StudyWomen's Studies


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