Disorderly Eating, Not Eating Disorders, of Women over 40

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Byline: By MADELEINE BRINDLEY Western Mail

Adult women lured by the idea of quick-fix weight loss are adopting bizarre and potentially dangerous eating habits, it has emerged. On top of the stereotype of teenagers battling with eating disorders, it appears a new phenomenon of 'disorderly eating' is particularly prevalent among women aged 40 and over.

Some are almost starving themselves throughout the day so they can still have treats of chocolate and wine at night in the mistaken notion such sacrifices will help them win the battle against middle-age spread.

And large numbers have admitted to having resorted to slimming aids, including laxatives, in a bid to achieve the perfect size 10.

Eating disorder experts last night said such behaviour was worrying, especially if it is being driven by body dissatisfaction.

Registered dietician Nigel Denby, of the British Dietetic Association, said, 'We live in a quick-fix society where women's magazines and the media in general will often suggest there is a magic solution or quick fix for no-effort weight control.

'But the sad fact is, and it's not a sexy message, that a healthy diet and an active lifestyle are key to long-term weight management.

'It is about what you do on a daily basis, rather than during an individual eating episode.'

A survey of 2,000 women by magazine Top Sante found that more than half of women aged 40 and over eat in a 'disordered' way to combat middle-age spread.

Most hate their naked body - scoring it just three-and-a-half out of 10 compared with the seven out of 10 for the body of their youth.

Six out of 10 (58%) have developed a 'disordered way of eating', which includes skipping breakfast, having a muffin and coffee for lunch or some chocolate and wine for dinner as a way of losing weight while still enjoying treats.

A third said they have taken slimming pills or laxatives during their life, 15% have fasted and 7% have tried hypnosis to lose weight.

And one in 10 said they had suffered either anorexia or bulimia at some stage.

The average women aged 40-and-over wants to weigh less than she did at 20 and would like to be 9st 7lb instead of her current 11st 1lb.

But such a limited diet can have serious consequences for women's health, especially as women over 40 are at an increased risk of heart disease and brittle bone disease - osteoporosis. …