Anorexia Is Hitting Older Women

By Jeanie Lerche Davis
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD

This isn't about any teenager: Wives, new mothers, professional women, and empty nesters are developing eating disorders.

Don't Let Dieting Get Out of Hand

By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD

When you're trying to lose weight, it's so important to maintain a healthy perspective. The desire to look better, feel better, and improve your health is a wonderful goal. But danger lurks when this desire becomes an obsession.

Disordered eating can occur at any age. And women are particularly vulnerable, especially when they become fixated on gaining control over their food intake and physical activity.

So enjoy your eating plan and find pleasure in maintaining your fitness without beating yourself up if you slip up on occasion -- as most everyone does. It's not about being perfect or getting unrealistically thin. If you think you may have an eating disorder, see your doctor right away.

Women in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s are showing signs of anorexia or bulimia. The problem often begins so subtly that neither she nor her family realizes what's happening, experts say. Yet the problem can be life-threatening.

With anorexia, the disorder may begin quite simply with a diet. Bulimia involves binging and purging, either through vomiting or laxatives -- with getting thin as the goal.

The women are often living productive lives and want to fight midlife weight gain. Or there may be an emotional crisis that triggers it. Depression springs from a divorce, a death, a child who has left home. Her self-esteem may be suffering. She may feel lonely.

Typically, it's fueled by concerns about body image and weight -- every woman's struggle to live up to society's standard.