Eating pathology in midlife women: Similar or different to younger counterparts?

Int J Eat Disord. 2018 Jan;51(1):3-9. doi: 10.1002/eat.22810. Epub 2017 Dec 4.


Objective: This study examined potential similarities and differences between women with eating disorders (EDs) in midlife and their younger counterparts.

Method: Seven hundred and three women assessed by a specialist eating disorder service were divided into three groups based on age (18-25, 25-40, and 40+) and compared on a number of clinical and demographic measures. Distribution of ED diagnoses was also examined between groups.

Results: Midlife women were less likely to receive a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa and more likely to receive a diagnosis of binge-eating disorder than their younger counterparts. Duration of illness was longer and age of ED onset later in the midlife group but no differences were seen on measures of global ED pathology, psychosocial impairment, or psychological distress.

Discussion: This study adds to the developing literature concerning EDs in midlife women, although further work is needed to support the findings presented here and to examine profiles of males presenting to treatment centers.

Keywords: age of onset; anorexia nervosa; binge-eating disorder; bulimia nervosa; diagnosis; middle-age; midlife.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / pathology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Young Adult