Several studies have shown that eating disorders are more common in adolescents and young adults than in older individuals. However, eating disorders are also common in people of all ages. Those with an eating disorder may suffer for years, and their symptoms may recur for other reasons. Regardless of age, many people recover to some degree. If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, get help. There are many treatment options.
There are many risks associated with eating disorders. For example, gastrointestinal conditions are more common in people with an eating disorder. Moreover, the nature of eating disorders can lead to an obsession with food. As a result, many people develop unhealthy behaviors that can lead to problems with their weight. Athletes are especially at risk of developing an eating disorder. They are more likely to practice dieting and weight restriction. Athletes can also be at risk if they have an established eating disorder.
Anorexia nervosa is the most common eating disorder, affecting approximately 10% of young women. Bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder affect approximately 2% of males. There is evidence that gender plays a role in onset and severity of the condition. In fact, it has been noted that the male-to-female ratio of cases was 3-to-1.
A recent study found that males are more likely to exhibit a range of potentially harmful behaviors related to their food and exercise habits. They are also more likely to deny that they are experiencing any problem. As a result, they are less likely to seek help. In addition, the prevalence of eating disorders is increasing among men.
Anorexia nervosa typically starts at puberty, but not all eating disorders have the same onset. For example, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder start at an earlier age. Those who develop anorexia nervosa have a 10-fold increase in risk for death.
In terms of prevention, most programs target adolescents and young adults. However, a few have been tested with midlife women. For instance, a cognitive-behavioral group intervention targeted improving body image in women. Another study looked at the effectiveness of a variety of prevention efforts in relation to an internet-based eBody Project. In this study, the magnitude of the effect of prevention programs on the symptoms of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa was examined. It was found that the magnitude of the effect was moderated by age.
In the United States, people over 45 years of age accounted for about 25% of eating disorder-related hospitalizations in 2009. For young adolescents, the rate of hospitalizations was increased by nearly 88 percent. Nonetheless, the rates of new diagnoses of eating disorders have been relatively stable over the past two decades.
In contrast, there have been very few studies that have looked at disordered eating in midlife women. There has been a tendency to think of disordered eating as being a problem for young females. While it is important to remember that eating disorders can occur at any age, there is a need to be careful in screening women for these illnesses at health care appointments.