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Women in their 40s are developing eating disorders because they hate the way they look, a survey suggests.

More than 70% of women had made serious attempts to diet in the last year and 58% had "disordered" eating patterns.

Most of the 2,000 women questioned by Top Sante magazine were unhappy with their bodies and half had had cosmetic surgery, or would consider it.

Experts warned eating disorders could affect people of all ages and urged women not to look for quick fixes.

The average woman over the age of 40 wants to weigh less than she did at 20 and would like to be 9st 7lb instead of her current weight of 11st 11lb, the survey results showed.

She rates her body as three-and-a-half out of 10, compared with seven out of 10 for the body they had when they were younger, and particularly hates her middle, hips and thighs and the tops of her arms.

What is worrying is that women appear to be turning to inappropriate means of taking control of their weight and shape
Eating Disorders Association spokesman

Women said they found it harder to lose weight once they hit 40, and over a third said they were constantly on a diet.

Worryingly, more than half of women admitted to a disordered way of eating - skipping breakfast, having a snack for lunch or having wine and chocolate instead of a proper dinner so they can still have treats while trying to keep trim.

A third said they had taken slimming pills or laxatives, and women also admitted they had fasted and tried hypnosis to lose weight.

The majority of women said they envied women their own age who had good bodies.

They blamed ageing, pregnancy and menopause for their weight gain.

Cosmetic surgery

Figures from the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons for 2005 show that cosmetic surgery is becoming more popular

Women had 19,601 procedures in 2005 compared with 15,019 in 2004.

Anti-ageing procedures have seen a particular rise in popularity, with a 42% rise in facelifts and a 50% rise in eyelid surgery.

A spokesperson for the Eating Disorders Association said: "This research has concluded what we always suspected - that people of all ages are concerned about issues with weight and shape.

"What is worrying is that women appear to be turning to inappropriate means of taking control of their weight and shape.

"It's vitally important to follow an appropriate diet and to take exercise.

"Quick fixes and pharmaceutical fixes are likely to lead to problems. Abusing slimming pills and laxatives can have a dramatic effect on your health.

"We live in a society where undue emphasis is placed on body image and shape and many people fall into the trap of imagining that changing their weight or shape will solve other emotional problems in their lives."

 

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