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Charity Calls For Better Awareness Of 'Baby Boomer' Eating Disorder Trend

According to a growing body of research, elderly people in Britain are in the grip of a negative body image epidemic, Huffpost Lifestyle reports.

Contrary to popular belief that as we grow older we become more comfortable in our own skin, the opposite appears to be true, underlines eating disorder charity Anorexia and Bulimia Care (ABC).

But while thousands are falling victim to eating disorders and crippling self-esteem issues later in life, younger sufferers remain the focus of our attention, highlights the charity.

A recent report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image highlighted that negative body image is the biggest underlying cause of relationship and health problems in the younger generation - but it also demonstrated a significant increase in elderly people seeking advice about body image anxiety, ABC told Huffpost Lifestyle.

The charity add that there has been an increase in the number of older people contacting the charity for support or information from 15% in 2008 to 22% in 2011.

The charity has also seen a 30% increase in the number of older people using its adult befriending service, a 300% increase in general calls to its helplines, and the organisation's website receives 13,000 unique visitors each month.

ABC believes more focus should be on older and elderly people who are increasingly suffering from anxiety and low self-esteem when it comes to body image.

“Eating disorders begin as coping strategies which can be triggered by a variety of experiences, such as bereavement, family break-up, bullying and abuse,” Jane Smith from ABC told HuffPost Lifestyle.

“Although understandably a lot of focus has been on teenage girls we are seeing an increasing number of older women and men coming to us for help.

“Older men particularly find it hard to get help and support. Often their eating disorder is triggered by redundancy, a divorce or relationship breakdown. They too are bombarded with images of models, footballers and film stars and they stop eating properly in just the same way as teenage girls.”

And it’s not just older men who are struggling with anxieties relating to body image – women in their 70s and 80s are also battling with their looks.

According to recent research by the University of the West of England, 90% of British women feel body conscious in some way – and sadly, it doesn’t wane as we grow older.

Although popular opinion suggests that body image woes are a young person’s problem (especially after recent statistics revealed that children as young as five are dealing with body insecurities), the myth that older people don’t care about their appearance and body shape is beginning to dissipate.

“Many women in their 80s are still anxious about the way their bodies look,” professor Nichola Rumsey from the University said during an interview by the Observer Magazine.

According to The National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines on eating disorders, over 1.6m people in the UK are affected by anorexia or bulimia.

Commenting on the above report, Michelle Mitchell from AGE UK told Huffpost Lifestyle: "It is crucial that health professionals do not let societal assumptions about older people blind them from making an accurate diagnosis and then must ensure that they are offered help that is appropriate to their needs."

Do you suffer from low body image self-esteem? Find out to feel more positive about your appearance with these top tips from psychotherapist and body image expert, Mark Bradley.

How To Improve Your Body Image Self-Esteem