Eating Disorders in Middle Age Bring Unique Challenges, Treatments
Emmett Bishop, MD, FAED, CEDS, Medical Director of Adult Services at Eating Recovery Center, was recently quoted in The Huffington Post discussing the health complications facing middle-aged individuals struggling with eating disorders. Read on for an excerpt of the article, or click here to read the piece in its entirety.
In an Austrian study of 475 women between 60 and 70 years old, published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders
in 2006, 45 percent of the women indicated that their self-esteem depended on their shape and weight. The same study revealed that "over 60 percent [of the women] stated 'moderate' or 'low' satisfaction with weight and shape."
This pressure to maintain youth may stem from the culture in which post 50s grew up. Dr. Blake Woodside, director of Toronto General Hospital's in-patient eating disorder program, told the Toronto Star
that the increase in midlife eating disorders can be traced to the '60s, when ideals changed and the "thin is in" culture materialized.
Whatever the cause, eating disorders can have serious side effects, including osteoporosis, heart problems and gastrointestinal issues. In a recent interview with Life Goes Strong, an online site for midlifers, Dr. Emmett Bishop, MD, FAED, CEDS -- founding partner and medical director of adult services at the Eating Recovery Center -- outlined some specific health issues that middle-agers with EDs may face:
Older individuals have much less resilience when it comes to physical damage from eating disorders. A lot of things can go wrong with vital organs, bone density can be impacted, dental health can suffer, and as tissues become less elastic, I've seen people aspirate from purging. A whole host of medical issues can arise as people abuse their bodies over time. Eating disorders are the deadliest mental illnesses and premature death is very common.
Older women also face somber statistics when it comes to EDs and death. Senior women comprise 78 percent of all deaths caused by anorexia, and the average age that women die
from the disease is 69.