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More Middle-Aged Women Suffer From Eating Disorders

Update Date: Jan 17, 2017 10:10 AM EST

A new study found that eating disorders among middle-aged women have significantly increased in the past years. One in every 28 women between 40 and 50 years old are now thought to have an eating disorder, such as anorexia or bulimia.

Anorexia and bulimia is mostly common among teenage girls and it is only recently that these eating disorders have been associated with this particular age group. Eating disorder charity Beat shared that 15 percent of calls they receive from their helpline were women over the age of 40, according to The Sun.

A study was also published in the BMC Medicine journal, where more than 5,300 British women between 40 and 50 years old were interviewed. They were divided into two groups, one comprising of women with eating disorders. About 15.3 percent of this group reported to suffer from the illness at some point in their lives, while 3.6 percent had it in the last year. 

They found that unhappy childhood, parents divorcing or separating increased the risk of bulimia, binge eating and some forms of anorexia. Researchers found that death of a career, history of childhood sexual abuse and fear of social rejection all link to having eating disorders. 

"Many of the women who took part in this study told us this was the first time they had ever spoken about their eating difficulties, so we need to understand why many women did not seek help," said Dr. Nadia Micali, psychiatrist and lead researcher at University College London.

iNews reported more than 725,000 people are affected by eating disorders in the UK. The study covers the last 40 years and it might reflect the past rather than the current lack of eating disorder awareness of health clinics in the UK. Researchers suggest further studies are needed to help characterize eating disorders in mid-life.

Dr. Micali added "In the Prime Minister's speech last week, we were promised the transformation of mental health services, we must now see this across all ages, not just for those under the age of 18."

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