Research Finds Elders Also Affected by Binging Behaviors

Binging behaviors are popularly associated with recklessness, and said recklessness with the time in human life which stands as the most fertile grounds for not giving a hoot – specifically, the age of the teen and the young adult. However, on the one hand, recent decades have seen the emergence of the infamous ‘adulescent’, namely, an adult in their mid-to-late twenties or even early thirties, who, given the current economic conditions and other connected issues has been relegated to moving back into the parental home. On the other hand, as the focus shifts from problems of youth to the problems of the older stages in life, two recent psychological studies point out that binging behaviors, be they binge eating or binge drinking, are not strictly a youth restricted problem. They do not magically disappear as one gets old, nor do they get any easier to deal with. Likewise, they are much more difficult to shake off at a later stage in life, as well as much more likely to cause severe backlash.

One such poll was conducted by a team of researchers under the guidance of the director of the Eating Disorders Program at the University of North Carolina, Doctor Cynthia Bulik. The report was based on a survey of over 1,800 women from all over the United States, all of them aged over 50, and will constitute a component of the countrywide Gender and Body Image Study. This section, titled ‘Body Image in Women 50 and Over’ asked females past middle age to recount their body image-related experiences. The results were surprising and jarring at the same time, as a previously unrecorded proportion of women polled reported having had binging, purging and weight loss issues. 3.5 per cent had binged at least once, almost 8 per cent had also ‘purged’ by forcing themselves to expel ingested food, while over 70 per cent are struggling with weight loss.

The subjects investigated for this report were almost all white (92 per cent), over a quarter of them obese (27 per cent), with 29 per cent overweight, 42 per cent with a normal weight and 2 per cent underweight. What is more, the younger set was not alone in facing eating disorders – women in their younger fifties were the one demographic that most frequently reported erratic eating patterns, but women past 75 were not foreign to such experiences either. The study coordinator used the findings as an opportunity to address the lack of tailored solutions for older sufferers of eating disorders.

Meanwhile, a team of scientists from the University of Exeter, in the United Kingdom (specifically, from the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry) issued the findings of a research poll that is bound to shed new light on the link between a compulsive behavior and an age-old risk of old age. The researchers took on over 5,000 test subjects aged over 65, living in the United States, and collected their first set of data in 2002. What followed was an eight-year long period of tracking, during which they assessed their patterns for drinking. Subjects that consumed more than four drinks in one sitting were regarded as binge drinkers. All subjects undertook memory tests and also had their cognitive functions assessed scientifically.

According to the poll results, the subjects who engaged in binge drinking more than once per month had 62 per cent higher odds of having their cognition affected negatively and were also 27 per cent more likely to see their memory falter. These were identified as 8.3 per cent of all men and 1.5 per cent of all women. 4.3 per cent of all male bingers drank in excess twice each month, and .5 of women did so. As such, they also exponentially increased their risk of exposure to dementia and senility.

So what are the treatments available for such behaviours? Psychotherapy, Mindfulness Therapy or Hypnotherapy ( are some of the options available. Or one could choose the more invasive route of drug therapies such as anti-depressants ( Surprisingly, the anti-convulsant topiramate has also shown some promise as a treatment for binge eating, though it does have some side effects.

Article publié pour la première fois le 27/11/2012

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