How to Get Help for an Eating Disorder in Midlife

By Nicole Pajer
Reviewed by Murray Zucker, M.D.
February 27, 2023

It’s a common stereotype that eating disorders most often affect teenage girls and young women. This is not always the case.

Eating disorders may arise in women in midlife (and men, too), and may even show up in older adulthood. They may continue into midlife, begin in midlife, or recur in midlife for those who have had previous eating disorders. In fact: “One out of every four individuals diagnosed with an eating disorder is over the age of 40,” says Cynthia Bulik, Ph.D., the founding director of the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders and author of Midlife Eating Disorders: Your Journey to Recovery.

“Studies indicate increases in disordered eating and body image disturbance occurring in middle age and later adulthood in both males and females,” adds Maria Sorbara Mora, R.D., founder of Integrated Eating, a recovery program in the New York City area for people with eating disorders. Research suggests that approximately 13% of women age 50 and over have some sort of eating-disorder symptoms. And according to a 2017 study, bulimia plateaued around age 47 and binge-eating disorders continued on until after age 70.