Date of Award

Spring 4-28-2021

Document Type

Thesis (699 registration)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Counseling


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Jessica Brown




The purpose of this study was to observe patterns in eating and body image within the older population. Body dissatisfaction has become a socially normative experience and older women, in particular, are pressured to alter their appearance to adhere to society’s beauty standards. Because of these feelings of dissatisfaction, older adults are at an increased risk of developing eating disorders and body dysmorphic disorder (Peat et al., 2008; Phillips, 2014). This study utilized a phenomenological approach to explore older adults’ lived experience with body image and eating patterns throughout the lifetime. Five participants, between the ages of 65-86, were interviewed related to body image and eating patterns. Two themes were identified: physical health and healthiness/wellbeing. Previous research has not emphasized physical health and overall healthiness as factors strongly influencing body image and eating factors, while this study found those to be the two most predominant factors impacting older adults’ lived experience with body image and eating patterns. These findings can positively influence the ways in which we support and advocate for clients within the counseling field.



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