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EDs On Rise Among Middle-Aged Women

As seen in NBC TV, Dallas Fort Worth

March 04, 2016

Eating disorders are on the rise among middle-aged women, according to health experts in Dallas.
Over the past decade, there has been a 42-percent increase in the number of women over the age of 35 who sought treatment eating disorder centers, such as the Renfrew Center in Dallas.

The center's director, Sandi Morse, says women in midlife may face many of the same eating disorder struggles as adolescents and younger women, such as body dissatisfaction, body image distortions and fear of food, and that these issues are often exacerbated by the aging process.

She adds women in midlife often face stressors, such as marital discord, divorce, "empty-nest" syndrome, chronic illness or career changes.

Sachse resident Carmen Franks battled eating disorders, ranging from bulimia to over-eating, for 22 years and says she decided to seek help when she began lying to family about her eating habits.

"I was closet eating and I was eating at 3 o'clock every single night. It was so overwhelming and I couldn't control it anymore," said Franks.

Morse said midlife women may find it more difficult to seek treatment and may face feelings of guilt because they must leave behind family members or jobs that rely heavily on their presence every day.

"Most people still stigmatize eating disorders as believing it's a teenage disease and it couldn't be more inaccurate," said Morse.

The Renfrew Center allows women to address their own special issues in a community of their peers –women struggling with similar issues around nutrition, wellness, relationships, exercise and self-nurturing.

Franks underwent counseling and inpatient treatment.

She said she now manages her eating habits in a healthy manner and hopes other women who are dealing with eating disorders will hear her story and seek the help they need.

"When I look in the mirror, I have to know what I know about me, not what someone else in society tells me," said Franks.

"I know how to manage it. I still seek therapy. I still go to nutritionists. I'm not giving up on myself," she added.
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