Monday, April 15, 2024

How Do People Develop Eating Disorders

Don't Miss

The Most Common Eating Disorders

  • Anorexia Nervosa – Individuals who suffer from anorexia nervosa see themselves as overweight, no matter how skinny they might actually be. For this reason, they severely restrict their caloric intake to the point that it is dangerous. 
  • Bulimia Nervosa – Those who struggle with bulimia are often of normal weight, so it can be harder to identify these individuals. They binge eat large quantities of food and then purge by vomiting, laxatives, diuretics, or even exercise.
  • Binge Eating – This eating disorder involves eating excessively large quantities of food at one time. Due to such a large caloric intake, these individuals are typically overweight and obese to the point where they are experiencing health issues as a result.
  • Pica– Individuals who struggle with pica have an addiction to eating items that aren’t actually food. This can lead to very serious medical problems. 
  • Rumination Disorder– This involves individuals regurgitating the food they have already swallowed. They either chew it again and swallow it, or spit it out. This can lead to malnourishment.
  • Purging – Individuals who purge typically consume a normal diet, however, in an effort to maintain their weight, they purge using laxatives, diuretics, or even vomiting.  

Eating disorders are dangerous if left untreated. They can lead to serious health issues and even death. It is important to understand the factors that play a role in the development of eating disorders.  

How Do I Talk To My Child About An Eating Disorder

Approach the topic by gently expressing that you are concerned for them. Be direct and specific about what you have observed. Then ask questions about their perception and experience, and listen attentively. Be open to from being bullied at school to feeling intense anxiety.

Maintain a calm tone throughout the conversation, even if you are struggling internally, so that it feels less overwhelming for your child. Whether in the first conversation or a later one, discuss concrete steps to begin treatment.

Mental Health Treatment Locator

For more information, resources, and research on mental illnesses, visit the NIMH website at . The National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus website also has information on a wide variety of mental disorders.

For general information on mental health and to locate treatment services, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Treatment Referral Helpline at 1–800–662–HELP . SAMHSA also has a Behavioral Health Treatment Locator on its website that can be searched by location.

How Do I Support My Child In Recovery

Recovery from an eating disorder is a continuous process, with twists and turns along the way. Parents should recognize that in addition to moving forward, children will probably also contend with setbacks or relapses.

Parents can encourage their child to stick to the treatment plan or meal schedule and continue developing coping skills. They can also remind the child of their larger life goals, such as returning to school if they took time off.

Supporting a child through an eating disorder takes time and energy, as it’s not an isolated incident but a continuous process. Therefore it’s important to set aside time to care of yourself, by finding ways to release stress and relate your own emotions to a loved one or a therapist. Maintaining central pillars of your own life is important, both for yourself and so that you can be there for your child.

Social Or Environmental Risk Factors

How Do People Develop Eating Disorders?

Social or environmental risk factors in the development of an eating disorder may include: 

  • being teased or bullied
  • a belief that high expectations from family and others must be met
  • major life changes such as family break-up, or the accumulation of many minor stressors
  • peer pressure to behave in particular ways
  • a parent or other role model who consistently diets or who is unhappy with their body
  • media and advertising images of the ideal body size and shape as slim and fit
  • a cultural tendency to judge people by their appearance.

Who Is At Risk For Eating Disorders

Eating disorders can affect people of all ages, racial/ethnic backgrounds, body weights, and genders. Although eating disorders often appear during the teen years or young adulthood, they may also develop during childhood or later in life .

Remember: People with eating disorders may appear healthy, yet be extremely ill.

The exact cause of eating disorders is not fully understood, but research suggests a combination of genetic, biological, behavioral, psychological, and social factors can raise a person’s risk.

Truths About Eating Disorders

There are many different kinds of food and weight preoccupations, including eating disorders. This section aims at de-mystifying issues relating to dieting, food, weight concerns, shape concerns, self-esteem and body image. To do so, we will be looking at those influences that most contribute to how we feel about our selves and our bodies, and that ultimately can help us make healthier choices for more enjoyable lives.

What Are Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are serious medical illnesses marked by severe disturbances to a person’s eating behaviors. Obsessions with food, body weight, and shape may be signs of an eating disorder. These disorders can affect a person’s physical and mental health; in some cases, they can be life-threatening. But eating disorders can be treated. Learning more about them can help you spot the warning signs and seek treatment early.

Remember: Eating disorders are not a lifestyle choice. They are biologically-influenced medical illnesses.

Treatment For Eating Disorders

You can recover from an eating disorder, but it may take time and recovery will be different for everyone.

If you’re referred to an eating disorder specialist or team of specialists, they’ll be responsible for your care.

They should talk to you about the support you might need, such as for other conditions you have, and include this in your treatment plan.

Your treatment will depend on the type of eating disorder you have, but usually includes a talking therapy.

Your treatment may also involve working through a guided self-help programme if you have bulimia or binge eating disorder.

Most people will be offered individual therapy, but those with binge eating disorder may be offered group therapy.

Read more about the different treatments for:

Treatment for other specified feeding or eating disorder will depend on the type of eating disorder your symptoms are most like.

For example, if your symptoms are most like anorexia, your treatment will be similar to the treatment for anorexia.

What Are The Risks Associated With Disordered Eating And Dieting

The risks associated with disordered eating are severe. People with disordered eating may experience:• A clinical eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder or other specified feeding and eating disorders • Osteoporosis or osteopenia: a reduction in bone density caused by a specific nutritional deficiency• Fatigue and poor sleep quality• Gastrointestinal problems such as constipation and/or diarrhoea• Headaches• Feelings of shame, guilt, and low self-esteem• Depressive or anxious symptoms and behaviours• Nutritional and metabolic problems

Risk Factors For Specific Eating Disorders

Risk factor research focuses on identifying traits or experiences that precede the development of a specific disorder . For a risk factor to be shown as a causal factor, the risk factor must be shown to come before the development of the eating disorder. It also must be capable of being manipulated to prevent the occurrence of the disorder. For example, smoking is a causal risk factor for lung cancer; it comes before the development of the disease, and not smoking reduces one’s risk of developing lung cancer.

Because eating disorders are relatively rare and diverse disorders, it is difficult and expensive to perform the kinds of large and long-term studies needed to better assess risk factors.

To date, there is limited risk factor research that has successfully demonstrated causality, but a 2015 research study found these causal risk factors for eating disorders.

What Are The Different Kinds Of Eating Disorders

Anorexia NervosaAnorexia Nervosa is characterised by restrictive eating that leads to a person being unable to maintain what is considered to be a normal and healthy weight. People experiencing Anorexia Nervosa possess an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming overweight, no matter their current weight and appearance.

Learn more

Bulimia NervosaBulimia Nervosa is characterised by repeated episodes of binge eating, followed by compensatory behaviours, such a purging or excessive exercise. People experiencing Bulimia Nervosa often place an excessive emphasis on their body shape or weight.


Binge Eating DisorderBinge Eating Disorder is characterised by episodes of eating large amounts of food over very short periods of time, with no compensatory behaviours. People who experience binge eating often feel a loss of control during episodes of binge eating.

Learn more

Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders OSFED may present with many symptoms of other eating disorders, but where the person doesn’t meet the full criteria for diagnosis of those eating disorders. OSFED is no less serious and with treatment, recovery is possible.

Learn more

Disordered eatingDisordered eating is a disturbed and unhealthy eating patterns. They can include restrictive dieting, compulsive eating or skipping meals. Disordered eating behaviours, and in particular dieting are the most common indicators of the development of an eating disorder.

Does Our Program Have Published Treatment Outcomes

Eating Disorders :: Midshipmen Development Center

You can read about patient satisfaction with our treatment program for anorexia nervosa. Reference: Guarda AS, Cooper M, Pletch A, Laddaran L, Redgrave GW, Schreyer CC. Acceptability and tolerability of a meal-based, rapid refeeding, behavioral weight restoration protocol for anorexia nervosa. 

You can read about our treatment outcomes for anorexia nervosa in Hopkins BrainWise: A Weighty Approach to Anorexia Nervosa.Reference: Redgrave GW, Coughlin JW, Schreyer CC, Martin LM, Leonpacher AK, Seide M, Verdi AM, Pletch A, Guarda AS. Refeeding and weight restoration outcomes in anorexia nervosa: Challenging current guidelines. Int J Eat Disord. 2015;48:866-73.  Pubmed link: 

Learn more about .

Getting Help For Someone Else

It can be difficult to know what to do if you’re worried that someone has an eating disorder.

They may not realise they have an eating disorder. They may also deny it, or be secretive and defensive about their eating or weight.

Let them know you’re worried about them and encourage them to see a GP. You could offer to go along with them.

What About The Treatment Of Other Eating Disorders Including Bed Arfid And Osfed

Eating disorders are behavioral problems and the most successful modalities of treatment all focus on normalizing eating and weight control behaviors whilst managing uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. Increasingly, we understand eating disorders as not just psychological problems but as disorders of learning and habit. Changing established habits can feel challenging, however practice of healthy eating behavior under expert therapeutic guidance helps develop skills needed to manage anxieties regarding food, weight and shape — all of which fade over time with the gradual achievement of mastery over recovery.

Parenting A Child With An Eating Disorder

Coming to the realization that your child has an eating disorder can be upsetting and overwhelming. But parents have the power to help their child begin to heal—even if the child isn’t completely ready yet. Learning the facts, discussing their experience, and encouraging them to seek treatment can put a child on the path to recovery.

On This Page

How Common Are Eating Disorders

The eating disorders anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, respectively, affect 0.5 percent and 2-3 percent of women over their lifetime. The most common age of onset is between 12-25. Although much more common in females, 10 percent of cases detected are in males. Binge eating disorder and OSFED are more common and rates of ARFID are not yet known as this diagnosis was defined relatively recently.

Getting Help For An Eating Disorder

If you think you may have an eating disorder, see a GP as soon as you can.

A GP will ask about your eating habits and how you’re feeling, plus check your overall health and weight.

They may refer you to an eating disorder specialist or team of specialists.

It can be very hard to admit you have a problem and ask for help. It may make things easier if you bring a friend or loved one with you to your appointment.

You can also talk in confidence to an adviser from eating disorders charity by calling their adult helpline on 0808 801 0677 or youth helpline on 0808 801 0711.

Early Warning Signs Of Eating Disorders

Adolescents can become fussy about particular foods or lose weight for lots of reasons. It is important to get any concerns checked by a health professional.Some signs that a young person might have an eating disorder and that should be investigated further include: 

  • rapid weight loss or weight gain
  • changes in shape

Eating Disorder Facts: Who Gets Eating Disorders

Natasha Tracy

Eating disorder facts tell us anyone can get an eating disorder, but they are more common among teens and young adults. The explanation for this: when people are young, they are establishing an identity, and trying different behaviors, some of which may include unhealthy eating. Most young people don’t consider it important to learn eating disorder facts, but gaining an understanding of healthy and unhealthy eating can be critical in helping to avoid an eating disorder now or later in life.

What Can Be Done If You Cant Treat The Cause

The Complete Guide to the Different Types of Eating ...

Eating disorder treatment is not about finding the cause. They are also not about getting rid of symptoms like purging. It is holistic; physical, emotional and nutritional and above all designed to make someone happier, confident ,able to manage feelings,  have better relationships and find meaning and purpose in life. A person who is healed from their eating disorder will have a grounded self-worth that is not dependent on being a perfect body size but the or she will be able to take care of themselves with food because they are deserving. This is a big ask but it is do-able by someone who is properly trained. The ideal treatment of an eating disorder looks forwards not back . It includes teaching a vast array of new skills as well as doing psychological work using powerful change techniques such as EFT or Neuro-linguistic Programming as well as traditional Expanded Cognitive and counselling therapies.  Some understanding of childhood experiences is useful to start with and if there is trauma it must be healed with approaches that do not involve painful story telling.  A trusting and sound relationship between the sufferer and therapist is perhaps the most important thing of all since change will always involve resistance from time to time, as the eating disorder loosens its hold.

At NCFED we help people to thrive, not just survive.

The Many Causes Of Eating Disorders Staff Writer

Anorexia and bulimia are very complicated disorders, and different people can develop different types of eating disorders for different reasons. That is, while many individuals with eating disorders think and act in very similar ways, the reasons they have these thoughts and actions can be quite different.

Although many people view these behaviors as self-destructive acts, most individuals who develop eating disorders do not usually perceive their behaviors as self-harmful. Actually, most patients feel that they began the behaviors to try to fix other problems. The most common reason therapists hear from people about why they began self-starvation, bingeing or purging is that at some point they felt terribly out of control — whether because of something they were feeling inside themselves or something that was happening to them from their outside environment.

Following are some of the most common causes of eating disorders.

Major life transitions. Many patients with eating disorders have difficulty with change. Anorexics, in particular, typically prefer that things are predictable, orderly and familiar. Consequently, transitions such as the onset of puberty, entering high school or college, or major illness or death of someone close to them can overwhelm these individuals and cause them to feel a loss of control.

Some information in this article was written by Craig Johnson, Ph.D.Laureate Psychiatric Clinic and Hospital, Tulsa, OK



How Early Can An Eating Disorder Start

Children as young as can develop an eating disorder. In fact, research suggests that anorexia is emerging at a younger age and that the condition has increased among children between 8 and 12 years old over the past decade.

Still, the median age when anorexia and bulimia develop is 18 and the median age when binge-eating disorder develops is 21, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

How Can I Help Someone Who Might Have An Eating Disorder

If you believe someone you know might have an eating disorder, talk to them about it. These conversations can be difficult because eating disorders can trigger negative emotions or make someone feel defensive about their eating habits. But listening to their concerns or showing that you care and understand can help encourage someone to seek help or treatment.

The Different Causes Of Eating Disorders

Steven Gans, MD

Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.

When a person gets sick, it’s natural to want to understand why. With eating disorders, which are associated with many myths and negative stereotypes, the question of causation can be especially confusing.

The culture at large commonly blames eating disorders on oversimplified explanations, such as the media’s promotion of unrealistically slender models or on bad parenting. Even some health professionals buy into these explanations.

But research shows that —longtime scapegoats—do not cause eating disorders, at least not in any simple, straightforward manner.

While growing up in a dysfunctional home could increase the risk for a number of psychological problems, including eating disorders, it does not condemn a child to an eating disorder or any other psychological disorder.

Scientists can’t say for sure what exactly causes an eating disorder or predict who will develop an eating disorder. In general, most experts agree that eating disorders are complicated illnesses that stem not from a single cause but from a complex interaction of biological, psychological, and environmental factors. There are many different pathways to the development of an eating disorder from binge eating disorder to anorexia nervosa to bulimia nervosa.

Risk Factors For Eating Disorders

We don’t know why some older children , particularly adolescents, develop an eating disorder and others don’t. However, many factors might influence an adolescent to develop an unhealthy eating pattern or to become afraid of gaining weight. These factors may be psychological, social, environmental or biological.

Often, a combination of things may trigger an eating disorder in a vulnerable person.

How Does An Eating Disorder Begin

Eating disorders don’t happen overnight; they can develop over the course of a few months or a few years. Like with any mental health condition, eating disorders, begin differently for each person. For some, it may be losing a few pounds and enjoying the way their body looks with less weight, for others it may be finding comfort in food, and still, for others, it may begin due to depression, stressful triggers, or trauma.

Those with have significant weight loss from restricting calories, often not realizing how underweight they may be and perceiving themselves as “fat,” despite a dangerously low body weight. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental health condition and claims the lives of an estimated 10-20% individuals due to complications. Associated with a distorted sense of body image, anorexia is closely linked to depression.

is characterized by cycles of binge eating followed by purging the body of unwanted calories. The sequence can be triggered by stress, anxiety, depression, and a lack of control. Individuals who have bulimia might feel regret after a binge, but find comfort and well-being following a purge. Purging can bring a sense of control and ease in the stress and anxiety someone may be feeling.  Often consuming between 3,400 calories in as little as an hour or as many as 20,000 calories in eight hours, those with bulimia may repeat the cycle several times in a week.

Foster A Healthy Relationship With Food

You can encourage older children and adolescents to develop a healthy relationship with food if you: 

  • Try not to label foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – this sets up cravings and feelings of guilt when the ‘bad’ foods are eaten.
  • Avoid using food as a reward, or for bribes or punishment.
  • Accept that children are likely to have different eating habits from adults – for instance, adolescents may require more food more frequently during the day or may go through periods of liking or disliking particular foods.
  • Avoid going on diets and do not try to put your child on a diet.
  • Allow your child to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. Do not force your child to eat everything that is on their plate.

Questions To Ask Your Doctor

Why do eating disorders develop in college?

Asking questions and providing information to your doctor or health care provider can improve your care. Talking with your doctor builds trust and leads to better results, quality, safety, and satisfaction. Visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website for tips at .

More information about finding a health care provider or treatment for mental disorders is available on our Finding Help for Mental Illness webpage, available at .

Eating Disorder Facts: Young Adults Experiment

More innocently, they may try to eat exclusively fat-free foods under the misconception this is the “healthy way;” despite eating disorder facts to the contrary. They may overexercise, believing if a little exercise is good, then a lot is better. They may simply engage in quirky eating habits that, in time, become habitual and extreme, or may read or see movies about eating disorders but lacking a true understanding of them, they accept eating disordered behaviors as “okay”.

The Fear Of Fatness And The Desire To Be Slim

Eating restraint is a part of almost all eating disorders. The most common reason for restraining eating is to try to lose weight. The whole situation may become complicated, but many people who end up with an eating disorder seem to start off simply trying to slim.

Of course, the reason why someone decides to start slimming in the first place may already be complex. By definition someone who sets out to lose weight is dissatisfied with herself or, at the very least, with some aspect of her body. Often the dissatisfaction may be more than just unhappiness with her shape and appearance. It may become focused on the body because the slimmer feels that weight and shape are both of great importance and relatively easily controlled and changed. These are widely held ideas.

Why Some People Develop Eating Disorders But Others Dont

June 25, 2019

Have you thought about why some people develop eating disorders or disordered eating patterns, while others don’t?

If you’ve struggled with disordered eating habits, you may have thought about this question.

After all, a lot of people go on diets but not all of them develop an eating disorders or disordered eating habits.

Most people are on social media but not everyone who sees lean, 10% BF bodies get to work to achieve the same.

Ways To Prevent Eating Disorders


Eating disorders and disordered eating are dangerous behaviors that hurt not only a person’s health, but their self-esteem and self-worth as well. It’s especially heartbreaking when eating disorders manifest at a young age—the overwhelming majority of people who have an eating disorder, more than 90%, are females between ages 12 and 25. That doesn’t mean that males can’t suffer from an eating disorder; in fact, these disorders can happen to anyone, regardless of their gender, age, race, or socioeconomic background. That is why eating disorder prevention is critical—if not treated promptly and properly, these disorders can have devastating effects. 

There are several types of eating disorders, which each have their own characteristics and symptoms. With bulima nervosa, a person will binge eat uncontrollably and then follow that up with purging, intense exercise, or some other action to counterbalance the excessive eating. Binge eating is like bulima in terms of excessive food consumption, but there is no purging that follows it; this disorder carries a high risk of obesity. Anorexia nervosa is almost the opposite of binging or bulima—instead of eating vast amounts of food, someone with anorexia will hardly eat at all. The goal might be a slender figure, but anorexia often leads to malnourishment, dangerously low weight and damage to the organs. Two lesser-known dysfunctional eating behaviors include rumination disorder and avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder .


More articles

Popular Articles