Home > Causes > Eating Disorders and Family Factors

Eating Disorders and Family Factors

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 18 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Eating Disorders family Factors

Eating disorders can not be said to be caused by family factors, but such factors certainly seem to help develop, as well as hinder recovery from, an eating disorder. Links have been found between genetics and eating disorders, and the home environment can also either guard against eating disorders or actually serve to help develop them. Childhood abuse, often within the family, has been linked to later eating disorders as well. Though none of these factors will absolutely result in an eating disorder, they do seem to contribute when an individual is susceptible to eating disorders. Further research is still being carried out on almost all of these factors to explore and understand the connections.

Family Genetics
Recently, much medical research has been conducted to determine if genetic factors influence the development of eating disorders. Though scientists are not prepared to state that there are definite genetic predispositions for eating disorders, they have found connections between genetics and either too much or not enough serotonin receptors in the brain. These receptors are a part of the pathway which helps signal hunger and fullness to the body. This is not to say that everyone who has abnormal levels of serotonin receptors will develop an eating disorder, but simply that there is a need for further exploration between genetics and eating disorders.

Family Environment
Social factors also seem to influence the development and recovery of eating disorders, and none more so than those found in the family environment which are some of the most constant, consistent and intense factors in an individual’s life.

Family members who repeatedly diet, focus on weight as an indicator of success and are hypercritical of image and appearance can all influence the development of an eating disorder in an individual. These same factors can inhibit the recovery from an eating disorder by reinforcing the skewed thoughts and behaviours that the individual has adopted. Similarly, poor communication between family members, little value placed on family life and few opportunities for family bonding may also contribute to the development of, and inhibit the recovery from, an eating disorder as an individual receives little support or reinforcement that (s)he is indeed loved and valued just as (s)he is.

Abuse within the Family
A final family factor that appears to contribute to the development of, and recovery from, eating disorders is a history of childhood abuse in the individual suffering from an eating disorder. Both physical and emotional abuse lead children to feel out of control, powerless, alone and afraid. These are all common thoughts and feelings also found in individuals who develop eating disorders. Though not all individuals who survive childhood abuse develop an eating disorder, further research on the relationship between childhood abuse and eating disorders may further explain the links.

Family factors seem to influence the development of, and recovery from, eating disorders. Genetics, the family environment and childhood abuse are all factors that have been linked to eating disorders, though none are absolutely identifiable as a cause of individual eating disorders.

Further information on family factors and eating disorders can be obtained from a GP, private mental health professional or from the Eating Disorders Association and/or National Centre for Eating Disorders.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Komal
    Re: Pica Disorder
    I am just 17 I am having bad habit of eating sand ,cement, plaster, etc from cracks of wall I want to leave this habit but I eat automatically since I…
    15 January 2020
  • Elle
    Re: Eating by Texture
    The texture of onions and peppers makes me sick I hate it I don't know what to do
    12 January 2020
  • Meg
    Re: Pica Disorder
    So my 14 year old daughter is eating the styrofoam that you use to plant fake flowers. I just found out and it has been going on for a while. How do I…
    11 January 2020
  • Misha
    Re: Pica Disorder
    I like to chew on towels as well but my problem is i just chewing I’ve been ripping the towels up into pieces, chewing it, and spitting it out for…
    8 January 2020
  • asia
    Re: Stomach Problems for Anorexics and Bulimics
    i have been struggling with bulimia for about 5-6 months now. i was regular. i used to b/p several times a day…
    29 December 2019
  • Emxay
    Re: The Menstrual Cycle and Eating Disorders
    I have anorexia. Does getting my period back mean that I'm back to a healthy weight? Or can I still get it when I'm…
    29 December 2019
  • Relaxoroxo
    Re: Why Does Eating Make Me Feel Sick?
    @ DarthPikachu I’m struggling with the same thing ! I was pregnant and was constantly nauseous and after I had my baby, I…
    26 December 2019
  • Bek
    Re: Pica Disorder
    My husband thinks I’m weird because I pick cotton strands from my clothes and chew them, then swallow them. I don’t understand why he gets upset with…
    21 December 2019
  • Idy
    Re: Pica Disorder
    I've had weird cravings throughout my life, from eating glue to eating hand sanitizer, to pencil erasers, soil and even cleaning supplies, it scares…
    14 December 2019
  • Kat
    Re: Eating by Texture
    To me I can't handle squishy foods and I don't like mixing my foods. One of my biggest problems is orange juice, and peaches in smoothies. When…
    13 December 2019