Social Causes of Anorexia
Social causes of anorexia are significant but these things are not the only anorexia causes. In fact, it’s likely that for at least many people with anorexia and other eating disorders, there are multiple causes that work together to lead to the development of the disease.
Social Causes of Anorexia
Social factors that may influence the development of anorexia include:
- The media is one factor that may contribute to the development of anorexia. Images commonly seen in the media portray underweight women as desirable and beautiful, even when they are so underweight they are unhealthy.
- The popular media also frequently provides information about how to diet to lose weight without mentioning that fact that many people do not need to diet or lose weight. They also don’t mention the fact that people that diet regularly are at a much higher risk of developing eating disorders.
- People that participate in certain sports, including gymnastics and ballet, are at higher risk for developing anorexia because they are under pressure to maintain low weights in order to participate or excel in their chosen sports.
- Family problems may be additional anorexia causes although experts now shy away from blaming a family for a child’s eating disorder. However, children raised in families that place excessive value on appearance or weight or in families where they receive frequent criticism for being overweight or even of average weight are at increased risk for developing anorexia.
Other Anorexia Causes
Social causes of anorexia are not the only factors that enter into the picture. Other anorexia causes include a variety of physical, biological and psychological factors.
- It is now believed that genetic factors may influence the development of anorexia. Researchers have identified a particular gene, located at chromosome 1p, that may be related to the susceptibility of people to develop the illness.
- An abnormality in part of the brain, the hypothalamus, may also contribute to the development of anorexia.
- People with anorexia often have an imbalance in certain neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) in the brain.
- Childhood abuse, particularly sexual abuse, is believed by many experts to be a factor in the development of anorexia. Not all people with anorexia were abused as children and not all victims of childhood abuse develop anorexia but there does seem to be a correlation between the two in many people. Child abuse could be considered one of the social causes of anorexia since abuse occurs in a somewhat social environment but the impact is more psychological or developmental.
- Poor self-esteem can contribute to the development of anorexia in some people, though certainly not all people with poor self-esteem develop the disorder.
- Mental illnesses like depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other anxiety disorders sometimes contribute to the development of eating disorders. Body dysmorphic disorder is another psychological condition that frequently occurs in people with anorexia. People with this condition have a distorted view of themselves. They obsess about a particular aspect of their appearance, such as their weight, and believe they are very unattractive even though their appearance is actually normal.
Dealing with Anorexia Causes
It’s important to deal with the causes of anorexia as much as possible. Of course, some factors affecting the disorder cannot be changed. There is nothing one can do to change one’s genes or the structure of one’s brain. Preventing child abuse, bolstering self-esteem in children and providing early treatment for mental illness may go a long way towards preventing eating disorders, though.
In addition, we can address the social causes of anorexia. We can advocate changes in the way the popular media portrays weight and we can encourage increased awareness of eating disorders in order to encourage more timely diagnosis and treatment.
More than the social causes of anorexia on our eating disorder statistics page
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