I know many must have heard about eating disorder and perhaps does not clearly understand its meaning within health and nutrition context. An eating disorder simply refers to a condition of physical and mental illness characterized by preoccupation with weight and food.

Eating disorder is habitually so severe that when affected with this condition, one is capable of focusing on limited things other than your weight, the food you eat, and how you appear to others. For instance, one suffering from this condition may not eat at all or decide to eat very small quantity of food.  People with eating disorder may also end up spending long hours viewing themselves through a mirror.

Risk Factors and Causes of Eating Disorders

What are the causes of eating disorders?

Well it still remains unknown the exact cause of the eating disorder. Nonetheless, most doctors believe that a combination of social, genetic, psychological, and physical factors may cause this condition as discussed below.

Generic factor: Certain genes may escalate one’s vulnerability to developing eating disorder. From recent research carried out by some doctors, those with first-degree relatives suffering from this condition are more likely to be affected too.

Psychological Health: People suffering from eating disorder condition may have underlying mental or psychological health problems that may cause this condition. Some of these problems include:

  • Impulsive behavior
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Low self-esteem
  • Troubled relationships


Brain Chemistry: Recent research recommends that serotonin may have an influence on your eating behavior. Serotonin refers to a natural brain chemical that aids in regulating mood, sleep, and learning among other things in the brain.

Society: Worth and success are frequently equated with slim physique and physical beauty. This belief is particularly factual in the Western culture. The aspiration to feel accepted or succeed may increase behaviors connected with eating disorder.


What are the risk factors associated with eating disorders?

Some genetic, environmental, and social factors may escalate one’s risk for developing eating disorder condition. Some of the risk factors associated with eating disorder include the following:

  • Age- Eating disorder is common during early twenties and teens. However, you can be affected at any age.
  • Gender– Women are most likely to have eating disorder compared to men.
  • Family history Those with first-degree relatives suffering from eating disorder are also likely to have this condition.
  • Emotional disorder– People with obsessive, compulsive, depression, and anxiety disorders are more prone to eating disorders.
  • Dieting– Loss of weight is often encountered with positive reinforcement. The need for assertion may drive you to a more severe diet, which may in turn lead to eating disorder.
  • Life transitions– Some changes in life and events may cause anxiety and emotional distress, thus making one more vulnerable to eating disorders especially for those who have struggled with this condition in the past. These transition times may include changing jobs, ending relationships, death of loved one, or moving. Abuse, incest, and sexual assault may also cause eating disorders.
  • Extracurricular activities– Artistic group and sports team members are subject to more risk of developing eating disorder. These groups include dancers, television personalities, models, actors, and athletes. Coaches, professionals, and parents in these areas may unintentionally contribute to eating disorders through encouraging weight loss.