Many older women say their weight has negative effect on their lives

June 22, 2012|By Mary MacVean
  • More than half the women over 50 in a survey say weight negatively impacts their lives.
More than half the women over 50 in a survey say weight negatively impacts… (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los…)

Weight and body image issues do not belong soley to the young, researchers have found – perhaps making official what plenty of women already discuss over coffee, with fake sugar, please.

The study released Friday in the International Journal of Eating Disorders found that 70% of women over 50 are trying to lose weight and 62% say their weight or shape has a negative effect on their lives. The study also found that 3.5% report binge eating at least once a week, and 7.5% reported using diet pills.

The study notes that little is known about the disordered eating behaviors among the 53 million U.S. women over age 50, so researchers from the University of North Carolina tried to find out.

“An unfortunate assumption is that they ‘grow out of’ body dissatisfaction and eating disorders, but no one has really bothered to ask,” lead researcher Cynthia Bulik, director of the University of North Caolina Eating Disorders Program, said in a statement.

Using the online tool Surveymonkey, 1,849 women were questioned from September 2010 to January 2011 in an effort to assess the prevalence of current and past eating disorder symptoms, dieting, and weight and body image concerns.

While some of the women trying to lose weight may have been told to do so by their doctors, "excessive concern with dieting, weight, and body shape and overall body dissatisfaction can have negative consequences on women's self-esteem" and could increase their risk of eating disorders, the researchers wrote.

The average age of the participants in the survey was 59; 92% were white. Twenty-seven percent were obese, 29% overweight. Thirty-six percent of the women reported spending at least half the time in the last five years dieting, 40% weighed themselves at least twice a week.

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