There are many factors that can influence the development of eating disorders, including genetics, environment, psychological and sociocultural influences. Fortunately, most people recover from eating disorders if they get help in time.
A family history of mental health disorders is also an important risk factor for developing eating disorders. Often, people with an eating disorder have a parent or sibling who had a mental health diagnosis such as depression, anxiety or substance use issues before developing an eating disorder themselves.
Eating disorders are often triggered by stressful life events, such as major life changes or traumatic experiences. These life changes may include moving, starting a new job or relationship, the death of a loved one or an injury.
These kinds of events can trigger an eating disorder if they are experienced in an unhelpful way, or if they create feelings of emotional distress. This is especially true if the person has a previous history of an eating disorder.
Having an unhealthy relationship with food is also a contributing factor to the development of an eating disorder. This is because a person with an eating disorder may have developed abnormal thoughts about food or eating habits, and they often need to control their weight by dieting or binging.
The development of an eating disorder is also influenced by environmental factors, which may include social pressures related to body image and weight. For example, the promotion of a thin ideal in society can cause negative feelings of self-worth and body dissatisfaction in people who are already susceptible to eating disorders.
Adolescence is a time when people are most vulnerable to eating disorders. This is because these are the years when they are most likely to experience stress and anxiety.
Teenagers and young adults are particularly susceptible to developing an eating disorder because they have less self-control than older people. In addition, adolescents and young adults are more likely to be exposed to pressures from peers and parents about body image and weight.
Socioeconomic status is another important risk factor for the development of eating disorders, as people who are less well-off tend to have a more difficult time getting access to nutritious foods and avoiding food deserts. It is also believed that obesity can be a symptom of depression and anxiety.
Other risk factors for the development of eating disorders are gender, age and ethnicity. In general, women are more likely to develop an eating disorder than men.
Athletes who participate in weight-dependent sports are also more likely to develop an eating disorder than non-athletes. These types of athletes are expected to maintain a certain weight, so they need to take extreme measures to keep their weight at a healthy level.
Girls in particular are more at risk for eating disorders than boys because they are more prone to experiencing body image and weight-related pressures from their peers. This is especially true in college, where young people are more closely connected to their peers.