Harvard Mental Health Letter

Eating disorders in adult women

For some, aging may bring on — or rekindle — an eating disorder.

Most people who develop eating disorders — an estimated 90% — are female. Typically associated with adolescents and young women, eating disorders also affect middle-aged or elderly women — although, until fairly recently, not much was known about prevalence in this older age group.

Secrecy and shame are part of the disorder, and women may not seek help. This is particularly true if they fear being forced to gain unwanted weight or stigmatized as an older woman with a "teenager's disease."

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