Middle-Age Women Battling Eating Disorders

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(Memphis) The pressure to look good is forcing some middle-age women into a disturbing trend.

They’re successful women, but are challenged by the images of youth and beauty they see around them every day.

The problem is leading to more cases of eating disorders.

“I was like, this was a teenage disorder, and that's one of the reasons it prevented me from going into treatment, right away,” said Cathy Oskowiak, who developed eating disorder.

The 48-year-old doesn’t fit the stereotype of a teenage girl battling an eating disorder.

She’s one of the faces of a new trend. That trend is middle age women choosing unhealthy, even dangerous ways, to control their weight.

“Children going off to school, empty nests type of things, losing parents, losing youthful appearance, it's one thing after another,” said Oskowiak.

Cathy entered treatment for binge eating in 2010.

She said, “I was hiding it. I was a closet/car-eater I call it.”

Many associate middle age with slowing down but it can be one of the most stressful times in a woman’s life.

That can make them vulnerable to eating disorders.

“All the images we're given in the world are pretty much unhealthy ways of viewing food and dieting,” said Becky Taylor, Transformation Center.

Taylor is one of the counselors at the Transformation Center in Cordova, TN. They specialize in treating people with eating disorders.

She says recently they’ve seen more binge eaters, people who eat large amounts of food at one time, sometimes after starving themselves during strict dieting.

Taylor said, “Women looking in the mirror and comparing themselves to adolescent girls and the reality is they're not an adolescent anymore but that's their competition in their mind.”

When they have group sessions at Transformation Center counselors say they split them up into young adults and teens and middle age adults.

They say often the middle age adults out-number the younger patients.

“It’s very difficult to come in for help but once you do you'll realize you're not alone. You're not the only middle aged person struggling with this. That's what a lot of people are really afraid of, am I the only one my age struggling with this,” said Taylor.

Cathy says getting treatment was the best thing she could have done and advises others with the same struggle to get help now.

She said, “I wish I had done this years ago. My life is so much better.”

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