A new study shows a shadow population of women with eating disorders: 3 percent of women in their 40s and 50s reported suffering from an eating disorder in the last year.

The stereotypical bulimic, anorexic , or binge eating person is a young adult, and that stereotype isn’t helping. Very few of these older women have sought help for their problem, the study shows, with possible reasons including a feared lack of understanding from health care professionals.

The stresses that come later in life — and the changes that the body undergoes — can be triggers for eating disorders. Other risk factors include an unhappy childhood and a poor relationship with one’s mother.

But the good news is treatment may be more effective with older adults, according to the AARP. They have more perspective to draw on, along with a better understanding of the consequences of their dangerous eating patterns.

Read more about the study here.

Elsewhere in eating disorder news, an interesting new treatment is proving effective.  They’re calling it dissonance-based treatment, and the idea is to (1) encourage women to criticize messages from the media about beauty being tied to thinness, and (2) teach women to resist the idea that their worth is tied to their appearance.

After engaging in this treatment program for four weeks, women showed improvement in their eating behaviors and in self-esteem. Anxiety and negative emotions decreased.

You can read more about that study here.

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