Elderly Brits Struggle with Eating Disorders
Negative body image is no longer a problem for teens and young adults, new research shows elderly people in Britain are suffering as well. The latest research by the charity, Anorexia and Bulimia Care (ABC) shows more and more older people are struggling with eating disorders and self-esteem issues.
The study by ABC is just the latest in a string of research tackling elderly body image problems. A new report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image found that negative body image in the younger generation was the leading underlying cause of relationship and health. This report also highlighted a significant increase in elderly people looking for help with their body image problems. Between 2008 and 2011, ABC saw a seven percent increase in the number of older people calling in for support.
“Eating disorders begin as coping strategies which can be triggered by a variety of experiences, such as bereavement, family break-up, bullying and abuse,” Jane Smith from ABC said. “Although understandably a lot of focus has been on teenage girls we are seeing an increasing number of older women and men coming to us for help.
“Older men particularly find it hard to get help and support. Often their eating disorder is triggered by redundancy, a divorce or relationship breakdown. They too are bombarded with images of models, footballers and film stars and they stop eating properly in just the same way as teenage girls,” Smith said. To help combat the growing number of elderly people suffering from body image and eating disorder issues, ABC is recommending awareness programs put more focus on the issue.
The problem is fighting the stereotype that older people are more comfortable in their bodies or somehow do not care about how they look. In a comment about the ABC report, Michelle Mitchell from AGE UK said, "It is crucial that health professionals do not let societal assumptions about older people blind them from making an accurate diagnosis and then must ensure that they are offered help that is appropriate to their needs."Continued on the next page