Anorexia Is Hitting Older Women
Even women losing pregnancy weight can develop anorexia, if they are perfectionists.
Could It Be Genetic?
Numerous studies during the last decade have suggested that
genetics plays a role, Kaye tells WebMD. "Eating disorders are known to run in
families. Studies show that identical twins are more likely than [fraternal]
twins to have eating disorders."
The genetic predisposition likely creates certain personality
traits -- tendency toward anxiety, obsession, perfectionism -- that make some
people particularly susceptible to eating disorders," he explains. "A genetic
link just makes sense, since lots of people in this society diet but relatively
few people end up with an eating disorder."
The important issue: "These can be dangerous disorders, people
can die from them," says Kaye. "Getting people to a doctor is very
That's not always easy, since many women with eating disorders
don't see themselves as having a problem, he says. "That can cause tension and
a difficulty that is not easily resolved. You can force a 14-year-old girl to
get treatment, but that's very hard with a 60-year-old woman. It often becomes
a struggle because the family is very concerned. Some kind of confrontation may
When should you be concerned? "When someone has a drastic
change in body size, that should be clue," says Herzog. Other signs
- A dramatic change in eating patterns
- Declining invitations to dine socially
- Often leaving the table for the bathroom
- Severe change in mood
Just remember: While certain diets may seem "extreme" -- such
as raw food or vegetarian diets -- they are generally not life-threatening,
says Herzog. "Also, some women are genetically very thin, have a higher
metabolism, and they won't gain when others might. Not everyone has the same
Kaye encourages women to contact him if they believe they may
qualify for his study of anorexia.
Published July 13, 2004.