Eating disorders are stereotypically associated with adolescents and young adults. Growing evidence, however, suggests that these conditions can occur at any time during a woman's lifespan, including at midlife. According to a study, body dissatisfaction is a primary cause of eating disorders, especially during perimenopause.
Eating disorder linked to Mental Health?
Study results published in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) suggests eating disorders are serious mental health conditions characterised by disturbances in eating behavior and body image that occur in approximately 13.1 per cent of women across the lifespan. The prevalence of any eating disorder specifically for women aged older than 40 years is roughly 3.5 per cent, with specific symptoms such as dissatisfaction with eating patterns being documented as high as 29.3 per cent.
Complications associated with eating disorder
Serious complications such as high mortality and morbidity are associated with eating disorders. These adverse health events are likely to be magnified when present at older ages. However, few studies on eating disorders have included participants at midlife, including premenopause, perimenopause, and postmenopause.
There is some evidence that supports the idea that perimenopausal women have the highest rates of dysregulated eating behaviors (eg, weight-control behaviors such as regular counting of calories or consumption of diet foods) of any reproductive stage at midlife and are significantly different from premenopausal women with regard to body dissatisfaction and feelings of fatness. Although findings such as these remain scant; the association between eating disorders and symptoms of perimenopause (eg, negative mood, depression, and fatigue) confirms that perimenopause may be a particularly risky time for eating pathology.
Specifically, fear of gaining weight and fear of losing control over eating habits are central symptoms of eating disorders in perimenopause and early postmenopause.