What are the Different Eating Disorder Causes?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2018
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An eating disorder is any type of obsessive or abnormal eating habits that threaten to harm the body, rather than provide the nourishment needed to maintain health. There are a number or reasons why an eating disorder may develop. Some are related to self-perception issues, while others have to do with what others think. There are even situations where culture, genetics, and chemical imbalances can result in either bulimia or anorexia nervosa. Here are some examples of a few common reasons why disorders of this type come about.

For many people, unhappiness with appearance and body type are chief among eating disorder causes. The issue may be triggered early on, when a child hears adults discussing his or her weight. Even later in life, such as the teen years or early adulthood, it is possible to develop feelings of being ugly and overweight, especially when comparing self to others in the peer group. This can lead to the development of unreasonable and distorted perceptions of what constitutes a healthy appearance.


Relatively innocuous observations from adults are not the only reason a young person develops an eating disorder. At times, the disorder is a reaction to verbal abuse, either from parents, relatives, schoolmates, or even a love interest. Constant derogatory references shatter self-esteem and may prompt the individual to engage in activities such as inducing vomiting after binge eating, or to become so calorie conscious that the individual does not consume enough food to adequately nourish the body. Among the several eating disorder causes, growing up or living in an abusive environment is one of the most oft cited by people recovering from both anorexia and bulimia.

However, not all eating disorder causes are linked with self-esteem issues or constant verbal attacks. An imbalance of hormones can also trigger this obsession with being thin. Hormonal imbalances often involve a negative change in thought processes that leaves the individual with an uneven view of his or her appearance. Even someone who normally is more interested in being healthy than in being thin can begin to worry obsessively about gaining weight and start to develop some type of eating disorder.

One of the most destructive of all eating disorder causes is the desire to please others. For example, an individual may become obsessed with losing weight, simply because he or she has the idea that a spouse or partner would be more attracted to someone who weighs less. This underlying reason has nothing to do with personal desires to reach and maintain a certain weight, or to conform with cultural standards that present some sort of unrealistic physical ideal. Here, the root of the issue is to ensure that the object of affection never strays, and will remain in the relationship over the long term.

Regardless of which eating disorder causes are at the root of the condition, it is important to remember that professional help is required to overcome this type of disorder. Since anorexia and bulimia can both causes severe damage to the heart, respiratory system, and other vital organs, recovery is usually in incremental process that provides the body with time to adjust to the changes, without placing additional stress on already weakened organs. If you or someone you know is suffering with an eating disorder of any type, look for counseling, support groups, and other resources in your community today.



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