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Causes of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are complex conditions that arise from a combination of factors. 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

Adapted from National Eating Disorder Association, 2006: www.NationalEatingDisorders.org.

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