Causes of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder are prevalent, which leads many people to wonder how these disorders begin. When considering what may have caused an eating disorder, it is important to remember that every individual person is different. What may have caused an eating disorder in one person may not have caused any disorders in another.

Right now, there is no single scientifically proven cause for eating disorders, but scientists and doctors have proposed many possible causes, which we have listed below.

Genetic Causes of Eating Disorders

Twins often share eating disorders, although this is not always the case. Researchers have also found that individuals with anorexia are eight times more likely to have relatives with anorexia nervosa or other eating disorders. Some scientists have linked a lack of serotonin in the brain to eating disorders, leading to the belief that brain composition and genetic development may be linked to eating disorders.

Cultural Causes of Eating Disorders

It is not difficult to notice how many magazines, movies and pop culture outlets showcase impossibly skinny female models and their overly-buff male counterparts. Typical female runway models are around 6 feet tall and weigh as little as 110 lbs. The ideal runway model size is 00.

Yes, you read that right—00. Size 00 is smaller than a size zero and has a waist measurement of 22 inches around. Is that healthy for a woman who is 6 feet tall? Doctors say, “Definitely not.”

On the other hand, highly caloric food is largely abundant in North America. Many fast food restaurants have dollar menus that make high calorie food more accessible than most fruits and vegetables. To add to that issue, our culture is increasingly sedentary and dependent on automobiles for transportation, with many cities neglecting sidewalks altogether.

Family Influences on Eating Disorders

Parental attitudes play a large role in the formation of eating disorders. Parents who push perfectionism may create an environment where an eating disorder can develop. Parents who are themselves self-critical can model unhealthy or unhappy body images that last a lifetime.

In some families, rich fattening foods are the norm. Poor diets can affect the whole family. On the flip side, many families are so busy that family meals are altogether neglected in lieu of picking up fast food or convenience food.

Also, family histories of eating disorders, addictions, abuse, obesity and emotional disorders have all been linked to eating disorders.

Stress and Life Transitional Causes of Eating Disorders

Often times, people with eating disorders express a sense of anxiety about life, and often experience a sense of not having control over life. Eating disorders might be a way to feel in control of certain situations.

Emotional Causes of Eating Disorders

Many individuals who suffer from eating disorders suffer from a crippling lack of self-esteem. While the myth exists that eating disorders only happen in vain people, the truth is that individuals who suffer from eating disorders often dislike themselves and their bodies. Often, no matter what they do, these people feel that they will never be good enough.

With anorexia nervosa in particular, individuals may feel that they must perform better and meet perfectionist goals. All individuals with eating disorders express high levels of stress and anxiety. Many individuals with eating disorders also struggle with other mental health issues such as depression, panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorder or other anxiety related illness.

Traumatic Events Cause Eating Disorders

Doctors have found a link between eating disorders and individuals who have suffered traumatic events, injuries, or illnesses. Individuals who have suffered physical or sexual abuse are particularly prone to eating disorders. Some doctors believe that the eating disorder becomes a way to distract the mind from previous trauma.

Help for Eating Disorders

If you or a loved one suffers from an eating disorder, you do not have to struggle alone. There are many treatment options available. The best way to treat an eating disorder is with the help of a caring counselor and nutrition team. To learn more about your treatment options, please call our toll-free 24-hour helpline. Help is within reach. Call today.

(866) 612-7509