Factors That May Contribute to Eating Disorders

Before singling out and focusing on how social media impacts on eating disorders, we first need to look at all the possible contributing factors. NEDA or the National Eating Disorders Association provides information on their website for everything one may need to know about eating disorders. One of their many links is factors that may contribute to eating disorders. According to NEDA, eating disorders are quite complex and therefore there is no one factor that causes an eating disorder.

These eating conditions arise from a combination of behavioral, biological, emotional, psychological, interpersonal and social factors. Eating disorders first appear to be just about food and weight obsessions, but those suffering from eating disorders many times are trying to use food and the control on food as a coping mechanism for their emotions and feelings. Dieting, bingeing and purging are a few of the coping mechanisms people start out with to cope with overwhelming and painful emotions. This allows the person to feel in control of his or her life. In the end, these negative behaviors with food will result in damage to one’s physical and emotional health, self-esteem and sense of competence and control.

This website goes on to list a few examples of some of the factors previously mentioned above that contribute to eating disorders. Some psychological factors include low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy or lack of control in life, and depression, anxiety, anger, stress or loneliness. Examples of interpersonal factors are troubled personal relationships, difficulty expressing emotions and feelings, history of being teased or ridiculed based on size or weight and history of physical or sexual abuse. Cultural pressures that glorify “thinness” or muscularity and place value on obtaining the “perfect body,” narrow definitions of beauty that include only women and men of specific body weights and shapes, cultural norms that value people on the basis of physical appearance and not inner qualities and strengths, and stress related to racial, ethnic, size/weight-related or other forms of discrimination or prejudice are some social factors. Lastly the biological factors include significant genetic contributions because eating disorders often run in families. Also, in some individuals with eating disorders, certain chemicals in the brain that control hunger, appetite, and digestion have been found to be unbalanced.

NEDA Staff. ” Factors That May Contribute to Eating Disorders.” NEDA Feeling Hope. 2001. http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/factors-may-contribute-eating-disorders

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