Eating disorders are a complex problem that is a combination of physical, emotional and social issues. They are also a form of mental health disorder and they affect people of all ages, genders and ethnicities.
How do social factors lead to the development of eating disorders?
Social factors are influences on a person’s health that can be in one’s genes, environment, culture or psychological history. These factors may cause someone to develop an eating disorder or they might help them to recover from it.
Personality traits such as low self-esteem, poor body image, lack of confidence and obsession with food or weight can all contribute to the development of an eating disorder. These traits are more common in individuals who have an eating disorder and in those who are vulnerable to developing an eating disorder.
Having a family member with an eating disorder can also increase the risk of developing an eating disorder in yourself or another person you know. This is because individuals with an eating disorder are often influenced by their parents’ behaviors and they can take this as a sign that they should follow similar behaviors.
Sociocultural standards of appearance are also known to be related to the development of eating disorders in modern-day girls and women. These standards of appearance are often emphasized through media, such as fashion magazines and movies, and can be a driving force in the pursuit of thinness, bulimia and perfectionism.
These standards of appearance can be especially influential when a girl is young and she is not aware that there are other ways to look good than being skinny. The pressure to conform to these standards can be particularly high in culturally diverse groups such as Hispanic, African-American or Asian-American cultures where a body is seen as an important indicator of social status and wealth.
Other social factors that can contribute to the development of eating disorders include bullying and trauma. Having experienced or witnessed a trauma in childhood, such as sexual abuse, severe discipline or witnessing a violent attack, natural disaster or war can increase the likelihood of developing an eating disorder later on in life.
The pressure to have a small body can also be influenced by social groups, such as sports teams or artistic communities that promote thinness as a way to improve performance. These communities are at an increased risk of developing eating disorders because their members often have a strong desire to be slim and attractive, and they are not always aware that their body images are not realistic.
Psychosocial support and social connections are also important in the development of an eating disorder, and these relationships can have a positive impact on recovery. This can include support from friends and family, social networks, religious leaders, professional counselors or mental health specialists, or a group of other supportive individuals who have been through the same experiences as the individual suffering from an eating disorder.
The best thing for a person to do is to seek help as soon as they notice signs that they are developing an eating disorder. This will allow them to get the treatment and support they need to recover from an eating disorder and prevent the disease from causing more harm in their lives.