Never too old for eating disorders or body dissatisfaction: a community study of elderly women

Int J Eat Disord. 2006 Nov;39(7):583-6. doi: 10.1002/eat.20327.


Objective: The aim of the study is to examine eating behavior and body attitude in elderly women.

Method: A randomly selected nonclinical sample of 1,000 women, aged 60-70 years, was contacted for our questionnaire survey covering current eating behavior, weight history, weight control, body attitude, and disordered eating (DSM-IV).

Results: The 475 (48%) women included in our analyses had a mean BMI of 25.1 but desired a mean BMI of 23.3. More than 80% controlled their weight and over 60% stated body dissatisfaction. Eighteen women (3.8%; 95% confidence interval: 2.3-5.9%) met criteria for eating disorders (ED; N = 1 anorexia nervosa, N = 2 bulimia nervosa, and N = 15 EDNOS) and 21 (4.4%) reported single symptoms of an ED.

Conclusion: Although EDs and body dissatisfaction are typical for young women, they do occur in female elderly and therefore should be included in the differential diagnosis of elderly presenting with weight loss, weight phobia, and/or vomiting.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Body Image
  • Community Mental Health Services
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / diagnosis
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Prevalence
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis
  • Somatoform Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology