• eating disorders;
  • subthreshold eating disorders;
  • middle age;
  • body image;
  • women;
  • bulimia nervosa;
  • binge-eating disorder;
  • eating disorder not otherwise specified


Objective: Little is known about the prevalence and correlates of eating disorders (ED) in middle-aged women. Method: We mailed anonymous questionnaires to 1,500 Austrian women aged 40–60 years, assessing ED (defined by DSM-IV), subthreshold ED, body image, and quality of life. We broadly defined “subthreshold ED” by the presence of either (1) binge eating with loss of control or (2) purging behavior, without requiring any of the other usual DSM-IV criteria for frequency or severity of these symptoms. Results: Of the 715 (48%) responders, 33 [4.6%; 95% confidence interval (CI): 3.3–6.4%] reported symptoms meeting full DSM-IV criteria for an ED [bulimia nervosa = 10; binge eating disorder = 11; eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS) = 12]. None displayed anorexia nervosa. Another 34 women (4.8%; CI: 3.4–6.6%) displayed subthreshold ED. These women showed levels of associated psychopathology virtually equal to the women with full-syndrome diagnoses. Discussion: ED appear common in middle-aged women, with a preponderance of binge eating disorder and EDNOS diagnoses as compared to the “classical” diagnoses of anorexia and bulimia nervosa. Interestingly, middle-aged women with even very broadly defined subthreshold ED showed distress and impairment comparable to women with full-scale ED. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2014; 47:320–324)