A team of British researchers discovered that eating disorders were common in a group of middle-aged women. The findings were published in the journal BMC Medicine on Tuesday, January 17th.
The discovery comes as a reminder that while eating disorders may be common for teenagers that are going through hormonal changes, middle-aged individuals, especially women, can be affected as well. Generally, eating disorders associated with teen population or young adults are bulimia and anorexia. However, the study found that 40 and 50-year-old women could equally be susceptible to these conditions.
The team of researchers looked at roughly 5,000 middle-aged women in the U.K. and discovered that nearly 3 percent of the subjects reported experiencing eating disorders within the last year. At the same time, more than 15 percent of the women said they battled with some kind of eating disorder at one point in their life.
The threats eating disorders pose to one’s health are even more worrisome, as less than 30 percent of the subjects reported seeking professional help for their condition. Upon extensive investigation, the researchers discovered that while some of the women developed an eating disorder prior to the study and were struggling with their condition, others developed bad eating habits in their midlife.
Furthermore, some of the subjects agreed to talk openly about their issues for the first time during the study, which provided the researchers with valuable information as to why only a few are seeking medical help for their affection.
The researchers have identified a series of risk factors that could lead to the development of eating disorders in a patient. Such risk factors include sexual abuse, parental separation, fear of social rejection, or childhood unhappiness.
Other triggers associated with the condition include menopause, infidelity, financial issues, stress, pregnancy and childbirth, empty nest syndrome (child leaving home), wrinkles, body shape changes, competing with younger women, infidelity, or natural signs of aging.
Even though the evidence that links aforementioned risk factors to adult eating disorders seems conclusive, the researchers say the study does not prove cause and effect. More research is needed in order to properly identify what causes adults to experience eating disorders since the survey was made up of women from a particular region in the U.K., and some of them were pregnant at some point during the study.
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