Thin Gray Line

Eating disorders are surprisingly common at midlife

For a decade starting at age 40, headaches, chest pains, fainting spells, hair loss and severe anemia plagued Eileen Binckley. During that period, she consulted an internist, a rheumatologist, a hematologist and a neurologist. All declared Binckley healthy. It wasn't until she was 50 that a therapist friend identified the problem: anorexia.

Unbeknownst to the specialists, Binckley had been spending every waking moment obsessing about food, her weight and ways to avoid eating. At times she consumed only 300 to 500 calories a day. She exercised compulsively, waking at 4 a.m. to take three-hour walks near her home in suburban Philadelphia. All...

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