The complex and deadly world of eating disorders
■ Connected coverage - selected articles on trends, challenges and controversies in the changing world of medicine
Posted July 23, 2012
Eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia are not just the domain of high school girls and college-age women. Public health experts for years have been urging physicians to look beyond the usual suspects when diagnosing patients with the disorders. American Medical News has covered numerous aspects of how these illnesses are recognized and treated in a wide range of patient types — and how too often the conditions continue to go unnoticed even by trained professionals.
More than a decade ago, it was a relative rarity for psychiatrists and other doctors to encounter a middle-age or older woman with an eating disorder. But new research concludes that a majority of people in this demographic have weight anxieties that can lead to serious disorders, and physicians in the field say they're increasingly diagnosing older women with the diseases. Read more
National data showed that women ages 19 to 30 still made up the largest group of people hospitalized for eating disorders, but there were spikes for men, younger boys and girls, and older people. One theory for the rise among young children: In their effort to combat childhood obesity, physicians and others inadvertently may trigger disorders in those with genetic predispositions. Read more
Societal influences — skeletal fashion models, pro-anorexia websites, obsession with thinness in the war on obesity — have affected patients of all genders, ages, races and backgrounds who are vulnerable to eating disorders. Recognizing complex warning signs and appropriately treating patients who might insist they have no problems can be the difference between life and death by starvation or suicide. Read more