The results of a survey about diet and body image in women over 50 finds that obsession with diet and weight, and the unhealthy behaviors that it can lead to, doesn't only plague young women.
- 70% said they were trying to lose weight, even though only 56% percent were overweight or obese.
- 3.5% of the women admit to binge eating
- Almost 8% of the women report purging.
- 62% of the women said that their weight or shape has a negative impact on their lives.
I don't find that first stat (70% are trying to lose) surprising or troublesome—aren't most of us trying to lose weight, if only casually? I know I always am, but that doesn't mean that it's disordered or messing up my life (admittedly, I'm not trying all that hard . . ). And, honestly, most of us probably should lose a few pounds, simply for our health's sake.
But is surprising and very disturbing to me that so many women over 50 feel that their weight hurts their quality of life—while it's not surprising that obese women would say that, just 27% of respondents qualified as obese, which leaves a big chunk of women who are mildly overweight or even thin who are letting a bad body image take some of the joy out of life.
And of course it's sad that a significant minority of women report unhealthy behaviors like bingeing and purging. The researchers report that those habits were most common among women in their early 50s, but also were reported by women over 75. That detail makes me think of an older woman who I see regularly at my gym—she's got to be over 75, and she looks about 95 because she is nothing but skin and bone, the victim of a serious eating disorder. It's so tragic to think that this woman who should be enjoying her later years is spending so much time in a gym and, quite clearly, obsessing over eating and not eating.
So, dear readers, does this survey ring true to you?