25 to 35-Year-Olds Most Affected by Eating Disorders in Ireland

By John Lavitt 10/23/14

The new report stresses that eating disorders can affect people of any age, not just teenagers.

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According to a Bodywhys report, the age group now most affected by eating disorders in Ireland are 25 to 35-year-olds.

As the Eating Disorder Association of Ireland, Bodywhys reported that close to a third of those with an eating disorder are in the 25 to 35 age group as opposed to the younger 19 to 24 age group of previous years. The report stresses, "eating disorders are not just a teenage issue.”

While one in five of the 10,000 people contacting the service had developed an eating disorder in the past six months, more than one in four had suffered with the condition for more than a decade. Women greatly outnumbered men nine to one. Almost half of the callers had never engaged in any form of treatment.

Anorexia was the most common disorder at 38%, followed by binge eating disorder at 26%, then bulimia a close third at 25%. Although email was the primary form of contact, offering a certain anonymity, the local call helpline in Dublin came in second with online groups coming in third. At 31%, 25 to 35 years olds clearly made up the biggest age group reaching out for help.

In the past, the dominant group for adults has been in the younger age range of 19 to 24. The question is why has this change taken place and what does it imply in regards to eating disorders in Ireland and beyond. Robyn L. Goldberg, RDN, CEDRD, analyzed the new statistics from Ireland, comparing them to her practice in Southern California.

“From my experience with the 25 to 35 age range, I have found that such clients have different stressors in their lives when compared to younger adults," Goldberg told The Fix. "They have taken on greater financial responsibilities like a new baby or a mortgage. Despite getting older, they never actually developed the coping mechanisms needed."

"Eating disorders from the past often resurface at these times," Goldberg continued. "Beyond such relapses, more challenging are the clients in the age range of 25 to 35, who suddenly develop a new relationship with food that is unhealthy and even dangerous. I would imagine the same thing often happens in Ireland and across the world as a whole.”

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.