Who Is at Risk for Eating Disorders?

Who Is at Risk for Eating Disorders?An eating disorder is a serious illness that is characterized by extreme interference to one’s diet. This interference may involve severe over or under eating and may involve starvation, binging or purging. There are many factors that contribute to eating disorders, and anyone is susceptible to the illness. However there are circumstances that put individuals at higher risk for an eating disorder.

Eating Disorder Risk Factors

Factors that put an individual at increased risk for developing an eating disorder include the following:

  • Gender. The American Psychiatric Association has found that eating disorders are more common in women.
  • Age. Eating disorders cover a broad range in age population but are most common for teens and those in their 20s.
  • Career. Jobs with high stress levels or that require media exposure or attention from others can trigger eating disorders.
  • Peer influence. Those who feel pressured to “fit in” or meet the social expectations of friends may go to great lengths to be accepted by their peers.
  • Early puberty. Girls who undergo puberty early and experience changes of increased body fat and other physical changes before their peers are more likely to develop eating disorders and feel ashamed of their new body.
  • Family history. If a parent or sibling has had an eating disorder in the past, the chances of another family member developing a disorder are increased.
  • Being overweight. Individuals who are overweight are more likely to think or obsess about losing weight. These individuals often have low self-esteem and may feel desperate to change their appearance, no matter the cost.
  • High involvement in physical activity or athletics. Athletes are striving for strength, speed and physical performance, and they may become obsessed with their diet under the guise of improving their skill, appearance and level of performance.
  • Stress. Feeling pressured or stressed can cause an individual to use eating habits as a distraction., An individual will focus on controlling what they can to cope with feeling overwhelmed in other areas of life. People often find food comforting when experiencing negative emotions.
  • Major life changes. People may use food to cope with change. Changes including getting a new job, moving, losing of a loved one or developing a chronic disease can be stressful, overwhelming and hard to deal with.

Perhaps the greatest risk factor associated with eating disorders is a mental health disorder. Eating disorders and mental health issues often co-occur and prolong the other’s existence. People with mental health issues struggle with emotions and feelings on regular basis, and individuals trying to manage symptoms related to depression, anxiety and more may turn to disordered eating behaviors in an attempt to cope.

Find Help for Eating Disorders

If you or a loved one is in need of professional help for an eating disorder, you can find it here. Please call our toll-free helpline today. Our counselors can answer your questions and address your concerns, provide free assessments, offer reliable guidance and information and connect you to the right treatment program for you. We are here to help you overcome anything standing in the way of your recovery. Please call today.