An increasing number of older people are suffering from anorexia and bulimia, according to a UK charity that helps those with eating disorders.
A report, published last month by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image after a three month public inquiry, highlighted how negative body image is an underlying cause of health and relationship problems.
Anorexia and Bulimia Care, which provides help and support for people with eating disorders, say it is not just teenagers and young people who need help.
Jane Smith of ABC said: “Eating disorders begin as coping strategies which can be triggered by a variety of experiences, such as bereavement, family break-up, bullying and abuse.
“Although understandably a lot of focus has been on teenage girls we are seeing an increasing number of older women and men coming to us for help.
“Older men particularly find it hard to get help and support. Often their eating disorder is triggered by redundancy, a divorce or relationship breakdown. They too are bombarded with images of models, footballers and film stars and they stop eating properly in just the same way as teenage girls.
“The All Party Parliamentary Group report was useful in that it highlighted many of the things that our charity has witnessed every day. But we are keen to ensure that the message that eating disorders can affect all ages, all lifestyles, men and women, boys and girls is not lost.”
Anorexia and Bulimia Care operates a befriending scheme for those with eating disorders, which has been running since 1991. The scheme is increasingly being used by older people who benefit from being linked with others who have had a similar experience and have recovered.
Health professionals, doctors and pharmacists are being urged to look out for older people showing signs of eating disorders. Some 1.6 million people in the UK have a diagnosed eating disorder but ABC believe many older people are not given the help they need.
Like younger sufferers many older people with eating disorders hide their condition from health professionals, friends and family. Information and help on eating disorders can be found at www.anorexiabulimiacare.org.uk.