Aging Anxieties and Disturbed Eating in Female Students: It’s not all About Aging Appearance Concern


  • Béré Mahoney


Fear and anxiety about aging have increased amongst female university students and these personal aging concerns are associated with disturbed eating, also prevalent in this group. Evidence suggests concern about aging appearance could account for the link between aging anxiety and problem eating in young women due to their belief in the thin – youth ideal. However, whether appearance concern is the strongest aging anxiety predictor of global and specific disturbed eating behaviors is unclear. The study examines this in a sample of female students at a Midlands university in the United Kingdom (N = 200, 18 – 39 years) who completed the Anxiety about Aging Scale and the Eating Disorders Inventory-3. The findings show general and a model of four aging anxieties predicted significantly greater global disturbed eating with medium and large effects sizes respectively. However, greater anxiety about the psychological challenges and interpersonal losses associated with aging best predicted global and specific disturbed eating behaviors and aging appearance concern was a weaker predictor. Implications for interventions targeting female students eating behavior are considered.