Home > Causes > How Individual Factors Affect Eating Disorders

How Individual Factors Affect Eating Disorders

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 20 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Eating Disorders anorexia bulimia

“Eating disorders are diagnosed in individuals who meet specific mental health criteria as well as engage in disordered eating behaviours, including when they eat, why they eat, what they eat and how much they eat (or don’t eat). The most common eating disorders in society today are anorexia nervosa (anorexia), bulimia nervosa (bulimia), and binge eating disorder.

Though each of these disorders result in different eating behaviours, each occurs when sufferers can not separate their emotions from their eating habits and this skews their eating behaviours. Eating disorders are present across age, gender, race and income levels, however eating disorders are approximately eight times more likely to affect women than men and are also more frequently found among younger women. This is generally true of eating disorders across the world.

Common Eating Disorders
The most common eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder. Anorexia is an eating disorder in which the sufferer is terrified of gaining weight and decreases the amount of food that (s)he will eat in an attempt to limit weight and body fat. Bulimia is an eating disorder marked by the consumption of a great amount of food in one sitting and then the purging of this food by inducing vomiting or taking laxatives and/or diuretics. Binge eating disorder is also characterised by the consumption of large amounts of food at one sitting but does not include the purging of this food afterwards. Though eating disorders are often associated with different signs and symptoms, they are often connected to low self esteem, poor body image, environments obsessed with thinness, a lack of support systems and possibly even genetics.

Self Esteem and Eating Disorders
Self esteem, or the emotional image a person holds of him/herself, is often considered to be low in individuals suffering from eating disorders. Low self esteem means that these individuals lack confidence in their own self worth, skills and abilities and it often leads to feelings of worthlessness and disinterest in the future, usually because they are unable to imagine that it will be happy or satisfying. Individuals suffering from low self esteem will often give off a beaten appearance, including walking with their heads down, refusing to meet others’ eyes when speaking, and rarely offering advice or opinions during discussions. Apologising often, even for situations that are not their fault, is also a common trait in individuals with low self esteem.

Body Image and Eating Disorders
Individuals suffering from eating disorders often have poor body images, or negative (and often skewed) perceptions of their own bodies. Anorexics often believe that their bodies are heavy even when they are not, and bulimics and binge eaters may recognise that their bodies are overweight but remain incredibly dissatisfied with them and continue to eat excessively nonetheless. In addition to weight, those with eating disorders may also consider themselves ugly regardless of their actual features.

Environment, Support Systems and Eating Disorders
Many eating disorder experts feel that the present media environment, in which thinness and beauty are held up as arguably the most important traits in a woman, also influences the development of eating disorders. Individuals who do not have proper support systems which applaud their skills and talents are thought to be at particular risk of falling prey to these messages.

Genetics and Eating Disorders
Finally, research is ongoing into whether or not genetics plays a part in the development of eating disorders. Some studies have discovered that individuals with eating disorders may have relatives also living with eating disorders, but causal links between the two have not yet been identified or accepted by the international medical community.

Eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder are associated with a variety of signs and symptoms. Individual factors associated with eating disorders often include low self esteem, poor body image, environments espousing beauty and thinness, a lack of support systems and possibly genetics.

For further information on eating disorders, visit with a medical professional or the contact 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
  • dk99
    Re: Pica Disorder
    I've been having an addiction to washing powder since I was 3, and now I'm 21. Tide and Gain taste so good, it's like I'm on a high, but my throat…
    5 February 2019
  • Jaggas
    Re: Pica Disorder
    I eat everything. Walls, ceilings, skirting boards... my whole house has gone. I’ve got nothing left. Do I have a problem? Help
    4 February 2019
  • SkinnyRose
    Re: Causes for Eating Disorders in Older People
    I am 69, have difficulty eating for a number of reasons - dental problems, lack of motivation, difficulty…
    23 January 2019
  • Chapis
    Re: Pica Disorder
    When I was younger I use to chew on paper towels and after I would eat a cupcake I would chew on the paper it would taste delicious to me and did that…
    21 January 2019
  • Lola
    Re: Eating by Texture
    I hate slimy foods like over cooked tomatoes and onions or foods like rice when the rice has hard bits into them it makes me gag also over…
    17 January 2019
  • Landi
    Re: Eating by Texture
    I will be 37 in July... Since the age of 3 I've never eaten veggies or meat. It's affected my life and health in a massive way. My problem is…
    12 January 2019
  • Selena
    Re: Pica Disorder
    I been eating towel since god knows when like my mum kind of knows cause I pull the string out of the towels and chew them iv made like a hundred…
    10 January 2019
  • Tapping
    Re: Binge Eating Disorder
    Hi, I want to heal from my binge eating disorder as it has claimed so much of my life. I can only do online due to me living very…
    1 December 2018
  • Ruby
    Re: Pica Disorder
    I chew the paper towel cardboard holder, I don't swallow it I just chew until I can't anymore. Lately I've been having some really bad stomach pain…
    30 November 2018
  • Jazzy
    Re: Pica Disorder
    I've been eating ashes none stop Half my pregnancy I can't stop even thou I try to avoid it I crave all day when my dude buy black milds I smoke them…
    30 November 2018