The Unhealthy Fight to Be Fit

We're bombarded daily by the statistic that too many Americans — nearly two-thirds — are overweight or obese. And while excess weight is a risk factor for everything from cancer to cardiovascular disease to infertility, we may be shooting ourselves in the foot when it comes to fighting our obsession with food. Has "getting healthy" become its own obsession?  

In a time of aging baby boomers, staying healthy — and attractive — is literally a booming industry. More than ever before, women and men are trying to fight the signs of aging and keep the body they had when they were in their twenties. The result? Adult-onset eating disorders may be on the rise.

Statistics generally indicate that 86 percent of eating disorders develop by the age of 20, but today those numbers demand a second look. A survey by Cornell University found that the number of women in their forties who were hospitalized for an eating disorder is also on the rise. As women see their bodies changing with age, many start severely limiting their diets to hang onto youth.

It's important to find a way to stay fit without going to an unhealthy extreme. Anorexia, bulimia, and excessive exercise all, ironically, accelerate the aging process. If you or someone close to you seems to be engaging in unhealthy food or exercise behaviors, know that eating disorders may not be just a young woman's struggle anymore — and that you should seek help from a doctor or therapist to ensure good health for years to come.

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