- More adults are seeking medical help for eating disorder treatment than reported earlier.
- Today’s woman is very emotional and at the same time she is being pushed away from her culture.
- The negative effects suffered by a teenage girl undergoing an eating disorder will be suffered too by the adult woman too.
Binge eating disorder is a serious, but curable eating disorder. Common characteristics of binge eating disorder consist of suicide risks, functional weakness and increased rate of the psychiatric condition co-occurring.
Body image despair and eating disorders: what’s age got to do with it?
The issue of body image and eating is not just associated with youths anymore. Women are also concerned about their body image and weight. Statistics reveal that 79 percent of women over 50 years in the United States are experiencing major body distress and are concerned about their weight. This in turn is taking a toll on their health and well-being. More adults are seeking medical help for eating disorder treatment than reported earlier.
The modern woman is experiencing eating disorders as a result of exposure to demanding biopsychosocial experiences such as: appearance, firm cultural standards concerning women, unreachable media images, fear of becoming obese and the ever-changing role played by women in globalized consumer beliefs. The information out there and the diet industry are also contributing to her eating disorders. Today’s woman is very emotional, and at the same time she is being pushed away from her culture. All of this together with exceptional opportunities and exceptional stress, leads her to diet, exercise, eating disorder and other obsessions.
Her responsibility to her family, balancing her personal life as well as the enormous weight of adapting and making it in this new era can bring about binge eating disorder. Other issues that can push her to eating disorders are marriage, pregnancies, parenting, divorce, career, midlife crisis and retirement.
General public and professional thought will never reflect the current situations that women are going through; resulting in a revolving nation of body wars for the western woman. The negative effects suffered by a teenage girl undergoing eating disorder will be suffered too by the adult woman.
The face of adult eating disorders and body image despair
Although there are not enough statistics on adult eating disorders, there is compelling information on the degree of body image and diet alarms. The following are signs indicating the existence of medical eating disorders among adults:
- In the year 2003, a third of inpatients admitted to treatment centers specialized for eating disorders were aged 30 years and above.
- In the United States, 43 million women are dieting to reduce weight, while at the same time 26 million are incorporating dietary habits to maintain weight.
- The number of women in their midlife dissatisfied with their images is on the rise. In 1972, the number stood at 25 percent. By 1997, the number more than doubled to 56 percent.
- Major research revealed that more than 20 percent of older women above age 70 were dieting. Though obesity is not linked with many deaths in that age, weight reduction is not recommended as it might be harmful.
- Weight loss is a major issue for women aged between 61 and 92 according to correspondence from a group of women on what worried them most.
- A Swiss survey revealed that 70 percent of women between the ages of 30 and 74 were not satisfied with their body weight despite having a normal weight. 62 percent of women above 65 years wanted to reduce weight. 31 percent had recently dieted despite 62 percent being normal weight.
- Other studies show comparable degrees of dieting and eating disorder among young and older adult age groups.
- 60 percent of elder women have tried out pathogenic weight measures. 40 percent practice restrained eating and 20 percent eat instinctively. 90 percent are concerned with their weight.
- Three years after the introduction of western television in Fiji, women that were contented with their eating habits and body image developed serious problems. 74 percent felt they were fat, 69 percent started dieting to reduce weight, one percent indulged in self-induced vomiting and 29 percent risked clinical eating disorders.
The shape of adult eating disorders
Adults fighting eating disorders comprise of different severity, shapes and sizes. They are in risk of suffering from bulimia, anorexia, binge eating disorders, OSFED, orthorexia or subclinical eating disorder. Some have been fighting all through their life, but they haven’t overcome the obsession. Some have fought it, recovered and relapsed. Others have been engrossed with weight and food for a long time, but some have not been caught up until now.
Adulthood encounters and loss of identity in a youth-infatuated realm can result into habits associated with diet, image and exercise.
Adults with eating disorders are five times more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs. From the opposite perspective, those abusing drugs and alcohol are 11 times more prone to developing eating disorders. 20 to 50 percent of women having eating disorders share history of anxiety, depression, trauma and personality disorders.
The common threads across age
No matter how old you are, the following are reasons behind eating disorders in women:
- The worldwide perception of being fat
- A common doubt on women about their place and authority
- Existing profound clashes amid their feminine and masculine struggles
- The struggle of an over persuading consumer culture that informs women to want and need instead of how to identify their true needs and wants
- Day-to-day coverage of constant exposure to stern impracticable media and unrealistic media pictures of beauty
- Unsure of the strength of their emotions
- Too much bombarding on the obesity war and too much misleading information by the diet industries
Triggers to adult eating disorders and body image despair
- Giving birth
- Fertility or infertility
- Cheating spouse
- Normal signs of aging
- Loss of a loved one
- The work place
- Work and family balance
Implications and call to action
The increase in the number of women worrying about body appearance and eating during midlife is enormous. To properly address underlying issues affecting the well-being and health of today’s women, we should:
- Get actual data on this issue to better outline its wide-scope effects and the various eating disorders women are going through during and after midlife.
- Carry out a comprehensive training to all mental health and medical specialists to detect, effectively refer and treat women having eating disorders.
- Devise a proper way of approaching obesity that will assist individual risk, standard of living and health consideration, as opposed to the current notion that scares all to assist in maintaining body frustrations and disordered eating.
- Create overall perception on cultural requirement for a woman's image.
- Provide various weight management options that will meet the wants and needs of adult women.
- Avail informative materials and give support to women with eating disorders who have children.
- Offer required efforts to push for real gender equality and improved ideals for all adult women regardless of their age to put a stop for their bodies being the main basis of power.
- Be confident that we will assist in uplifting the worth of adult women's lives regardless of age or how long they have suffered.
- Put much attention on eating disorders and other nutritional and body appearance issues as key health problems, developing a shared and open assurance that no adult woman will be left behind.
Effective known treatments for binge eating disorders are readily available. Examples are dietary behavioral therapy (DBT), psychodynamic counselling, interpersonal therapy (IPT), family therapy, antidepressant medication, pharmacotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and using self-help.
The above treatments must be assessed based on benefits, risks and alternatives. Prescriptions should only be made by a trained medical professional or eating disorder specialist.