Eating disorders are a group of conditions characterised by abnormal eating habits that may involve either insufficient or excessive food intake. Some of the most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Rumination disorder and restricting or avoiding certain foods are other examples of eating disorders. These disorders can have serious physical and psychological consequences and may require professional treatment to overcome. Each type of eating disorder can cause unhealthy eating habits among individuals and the most common age of its onset is said to be between 12 and 25.
This is also the age when adolescents and young adults become conscious about themselves, their body and their appearances. This consciousness and dissatisfaction about one’s own body could kick in at any point in life, especially among women and lead them to limit their intake of food to achieve the idealised perfect body weight and shape.
A recently published study has revealed that body dissatisfaction is a primary cause of eating disorders, especially during perimenopause in women. Only a small number of studies on eating disorders are known to include women in their premenopause, perimenopause and postmenopause phases. When present at older ages, the adverse health effects of eating disorders are probably going to be more severe, the study claimed.
The structure of eating disorder symptoms, particularly during perimenopause and early postmenopause was examined in a study which was recently published in the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS). This was accomplished by comparing the structure and significance of particular eating disorder symptoms across reproductive phases using network analysis statistical models.
The study, in the opinion of the researchers, supports the notion that dissatisfaction with body image is a significant risk factor for eating disorders throughout one’s life, but notably during middle age. They have also emphasised the need for more extensive research on this underrepresented female demographic.
According to Dr Stephanie Faubion, medical director of NAMS, this study, like many other studies on eating disorders, also demonstrates that body image remains a major cause of eating disorders in midlife women. Eating disorders in perimenopause and early postmenopause are characterised by the fear of increasing weight and losing control over eating behaviours.
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