Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
September/October Volume 25, Number 5
Traditionally, eating disorders have been thought to be the exclusive realm of teens and young adults. However, researchers at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and the Neuropsychiatric Research Institute, Fargo, ND, recently reported that an increasing number of older adults are now presenting for eating disorders treatment. According to Emily Pisetsky, PhD, who described her group’s recent study at the International Eating Disorders Conference in New York, this trend reflects a growing number of adults with later-onset eating disorders, and can be traced back to the mid-1980s. The researchers studied 1550 patients who presented for treatment at the university’s Outpatient Eating Disorders Clinic between 1979 and 1996. The number of persons older than 40 presenting for treatment for the first time rose from 3.3% in 1979-1984 to 11.8% during 1991-1996.
Holly Grishkat, PhD, director of the Thirty-Something and Beyond program at The Renfrew Center in Radnor, PA, noted that older adults with eating disorders fall into one of three major categories: those with a past eating disorder that went untreated; those whose eating disorder went into remission and resurfaced later in life; and those whose eating disorder developed later in life. Dr. Pisetsky and colleagues point out that the increasing numbers of older patients seeking first-time treatment for eating disorders is a signal that treatment providers need to be prepared to deal with issues that may be unique to older adults with eating disorders.