Causes of Eating Disorders
The idealization of thinness has resulted in a distorted body image and unrealistic measures of beauty and success. Cultural and media influences, such as TV, magazines, and movies, reinforce the belief that women should be more concerned with their appearance than with their own ideas or achievements.
Body dissatisfaction, feelings of fatness, and a drive for thinness have led many women to become overly concerned about their appearance. Eating disorder research has shown that many normal-weight and even underweight girls are dissatisfied with their bodies and are choosing inappropriate behaviors to control their appetite and food intake. The American Association of University Women found that adolescent girls believe physical appearance is a major part of their self-esteem and that their body image is a major part of their sense of self.
Recent studies have revealed a connection between biological factors associated with clinical depression and the development of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Stress hormones, such as cortisol, are elevated in those with eating disorders, while neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, may not function correctly. Research continues to seek a better understanding of this relationship.
Final Thoughts on "Causes" of Eating Disorders
None of the risk factors discussed in this article are actual known eating disorders causes. They just increase the risk of developing an eating disorder. A number of people with eating disorders have no risk factors, and plenty of people with some or all of these risk factors do not develop an eating disorder. Researchers continue to look for specific causes of eating disorders.