Eating Disorders Have No Age Limits

Many people assume that eating disorders only impact young females. That’s a false and dangerous assumption. Anyone can develop an eating disorder.

Eating disorders affect people of all ages – even infants who are just becoming accustomed to eating a variety of foods and seniors in their 70s or 80s can develop eating disorders.

It’s true that adolescents and teens are most susceptible to eating disorders, but just as they have been increasingly affecting males, they are also impacting more young children.

Walden provides specialized treatment programs for three different age groups. Regardless of age, recovery is possible with proper treatment, motivation and support.

Eating Disorders in Children

Young children are most susceptible to Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID), which can often present similar to “extreme picky eating.” ARFID affects about 3.2% of the general population, including 14-22% of children in pediatric treatment programs for any type of eating disorder, according to Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment.

Even at an early age, children can develop issues with body image that can lead to eating disorders.

Family-based treatment is especially important when addressing eating concerns in children. When treatment begins at an early age, before eating disorders become deeply engrained, the prognosis for recovery is high.

Eating Disorders in Adolescents

Adolescence is the age during which it is most common for individuals to develop eating disorders. Adolescence is stressful for many young people; it is a time when their bodies and minds are going through a great deal of change.

The National Association of Eating Disorders (NEDA) noted that 86% of individuals with eating disorders report the onset by age 20, while 43% report the onset between ages 16 and 20. Family-based treatment is the gold standard in evidence-based interventions for adolescents with eating disorders.

Eating Disorders in Adults

While most people who develop eating disorders do so when they are young, according to NEDA, 16% of individuals develop eating disorders after age 20. For those who don’t receive treatment early, it is not uncommon for them to continue to struggle with their eating disorder into adulthood.

Although it is true that the longer a person has an eating disorder, the more difficult it may be to achieve recovery, we do see it happen every day. We are here to help motivate our adult patients and remind them that there is hope and that there is a life worth living beyond their eating disorder.

Eating Disorders in Seniors

Body image can be an issue for seniors, just as it is for young people. As they age, many seniors seek to hold on to their youth by keeping their weight down. Seniors also may lose their appetites and, as their desire for food decreases, they may develop anorexia.

Treatment of Eating Disorders

Your journey to recovery at Walden begins with a brief assessment with a team of specialized experts. Based on the assessment, a treatment plan will be developed that includes medical management, behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, nutritional counseling and medication.

Depending on the severity of the disorder, symptoms, age and other factors, the team will recommend one of the following levels of care:

Walden offers a comprehensive “continuum” of care, because we recognize that every individual has different needs. In addition, needs change as one advances toward recovery.

Walden Has an Eating Disorder Clinic Near You

Walden seeks to make treatment easily accessible to all individuals and their families.

Having treatment close to home minimizes the pressure of keeping medical appointments and enables most individuals to remain at home throughout the treatment process. It also allows them to spend time with their families or loved ones, who can provide invaluable support as they progress toward recovery.

Walden has clinics throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut and Georgia. Our 14 locations include two inpatient units, a residential facility and 11 ambulatory care clinics. Patients can receive care in Amherst, Braintree, Milford, Peabody, Waltham and Worcester, Mass.; Guilford, South Windsor and Vernon, Conn., and Alpharetta, Decatur and Dunwoody, Ga.

Regain Your Life. Walden Can Help.

If you are concerned that you – or a loved one – may have an eating disorder, we are here to help. Please call 781-647-6727 to speak with a Walden eating disorders intake specialist, or complete the form on this page, to start the road to recovery.

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