An eating disorder is a psychological disorder where a person has a dangerously unhealthy relationship with food that causes them emotional, mental and physical distress.
There’s a variety of different eating disorders, but the most widely known are anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorder. Obsessions about weight, calories, body shape, as well as an avoidance of meals are some of the most common symptoms that someone might be struggling with one of these disorders.
While these three eating disorders all come about in different ways and symptoms vary per person, each of them has the potential to be life-threatening due to the extreme physical and mental toll that eating disorders take on your body.
In this article, we’re going to go over what generations are most affected by certain eating disorders in order to help you recognize the symptoms in others, as well as yourself.
Who’s most at risk of developing an eating disorder?
Contrary to what some people believe, eating disorders are not limited to any one gender, age or body type, and can affect people of all ages in every demographic.
Research has revealed that women are twice as susceptible than men to developing an eating disorder, a number that has steadily risen five percent in the most recent decade. This is most likely due to societal beauty standards, especially ones that are hyper-critical of a woman’s weight and body shape.
As for age, people in all stages of life have been known to and continue to struggle with eating disorders from adolescents all the way through seniority. But, it continues to primarily be an illness that affects the youth most of all.
Ages most affected by eating disorders
Many people are surprised to learn that a large majority of middle-aged and even elderly people are actively struggling with some sort of eating disorder. While these disorders have, for the most part, been considered a “young person’s illness,” they do not discriminate against age. This has led to there being a large amount of inaccurate or misleading information.
As it is with all things misunderstood, there are a fair amount of harmful stereotypes surrounding eating disorders, such as—it’s only a “girl problem,” or that people who are on the thinner side of the spectrum cannot possibly have an unhealthy relationship with food.
There are, as well, stereotypes around eating disorders and age; many middle- and older-aged people have been led to believe they “should” have outgrown their eating disorder with age. Some fear there aren’t programs available for people in their demographic, and others feel shame at “still” struggling with an eating disorder at their age.
Repeat after us: there is no shame in struggling with an eating disorder, no matter how young or old you are — and everyone has the ability to recover.
Eating disorders continue to manifest in older generations, but not only are middle- and older-aged people susceptible to eating disorders, but they are far less likely to seek treatment for a disorder than their younger counterparts.
This is largely due to stereotypes surrounding eating disorders and age, as well as the ability to, disguise their symptoms more effectively. Thus, dismissing them as being age-related issues as opposed to being the result of a disorder.
Eating disorders have long been primarily prevalent in adolescents (specifically those of high-school age), and even for middle-to-older aged people who are struggling with an eating disorder, many of them initially developed the disorder in their youth, typically in their mid-teenage years.
In the twenty-first century, eating disorders have begun affecting more and more youth with an aggressive frequency, the three most common eating disorders among adolescents being anorexia, bulimia and Binge-Eating Disorder (also known as BED).
Reach out for additional resources and support
We know it can feel overwhelming when you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder — you might be tempted to believe that you’re alone, but you aren’t.
We’re here to help you through this.
At Seeds of Hope, our solution-driven team is dedicated to helping you through every phase of your recovery journey, starting with the very first step.
When you call our office, ask to receive an eating disorder evaluation; we know that eating disorders can happen to anyone in all stages of life, so a professional assessment is going to tell us more about you so we can tailor a rehabilitation program specifically designed to meet your individual needs and goals.
You deserve to have a healthy, empowering relationship with food, one that brings you no stress or guilt, but genuine enjoyment and freedom — and it’s our mission to help you get there.
To learn more about how we can help you on your journey to recovery, send a message to our team or give us a call today at 610-644-6464.