Eating disorder pathology in a sample of midlife and older adults experiencing food insecurity

Savannah C. Hooper, Lisa Smith Kilpela, Francesca Gomez, Keesha M. Middlemass, Carolyn Black Becker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Researchers have recently identified food insecurity (FI) as a risk factor for eating disorder pathology (EDP). Yet, associations between FI and EDP remain understudied in midlife and older adults. The current study is a descriptive and exploratory re-analysis of Becker et al. (2017, 2019), investigating prevalence rates of EDP and differences in EDP between midlife and older adult food bank clients. Additionally, we examined the relations between FI severity and EDP in each age group. Participants included 292 midlife (51–65 years) and 267 older adults (66+) who were clients of a local foodbank. All participants completed a self-report questionnaire inquiring about FI, EDP, and demographic information. Overall, 8.9 % of respondents had a probable eating disorder (10.5 % of midlife adults, 5.6 % of older adults). Binge eating was the most endorsed EDP. Significantly more midlife adults reported night eating and skipping ≥two meals in a row versus older adults. Additionally, FI severity level was associated with higher risk of night eating, BE, skipping ≥two meals in a row, and laxative use in midlife adults. These same associations were significant for older adults, with the addition of vomiting and exception of laxative use. Evidently, the relations between FI and EDP seen in younger populations extends into mid and late-life, with minimal differences between midlife and older adults living with FI. It is imperative that we intentionally include midlife and older adults in FI and EDP research, investigating how best to address disordered eating across the lifespan within the context of experiencing FI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101742
JournalEating Behaviors
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • Eating disorder pathology
  • Food insecurity
  • Midlife adults
  • Older adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology


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