Causes of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are complex conditions that arise from a combination of factors, some of which are listed here. While each factor can contribute to the development & maintenance of an eating disorder, no single factor is the “cause” for disordered eating.

Psychological Factors that Can Contribute to Eating Disorders

  • Low self-esteem
  • Feelings of inadequacy or lack of control in life
  • Depression, anxiety, anger or loneliness
  • Body dissatisfaction

Interpersonal Factors that Can Contribute to Eating Disorders

  • Familial concerns & struggles within personal relationships
  • Difficulty expressing emotions & feelings
  • History of being teased or ridiculed based on size or weight
  • History of physical or sexual abuse

Social & Cultural Factors that Can Contribute to Eating Disorders

  • Cultural pressures that glorify "thinness" & place value on obtaining the “perfect body”
  • Narrow definitions of beauty that include only women & men of specific body weights & shapes
  • Cultural norms that value people based on physical appearance
  • The media’s portrayal of the ultra-thin ideal of beauty

If you find yourself continuing to struggle with body image despite your best efforts, it might be time to consider professional help.

Adapted from National Eating Disorder Association, 2006:

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