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The goal of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week – recognized this year February 22 through 28 – is to shine a spotlight on eating disorders by educating the public, spreading a message of hope, and putting lifesaving resources into the hands of those in need. This year’s theme is ‘Everybody has a seat at the table.’
Although it is widely misperceived to only affect young women and adolescents, eating disorders can affect any gender at any point in life, including men and the elderly. Experts believe these disorders can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, personality traits, social climates and cultural ideals. The medical terms for the most common eating disorders are Anorexia nervosa, Bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, Pica, Rumination disorder, and avoidant/destructive food intake disorder.
There is also a wide spectrum of symptoms or warning signs to look out for. Most include: restrictions of food, food binges, purging behaviors such as vomiting or over-exercising, unhealthy perceptions of body image, rapid weight loss, fatigue, depression, and many more.
Specifically with the elderly population, there are some other warning signs that could indicate an elderly individual is struggling with an eating disorder. These include: