The 14 risk factors for eating disorders

Eating disorders are very difficult to treat, which unfortunately have been increasing in the last 50 years, thanks, above all, to the promotion of an unrealistic image of what is beautiful and unhealthy eating habits.

In this article we are going to see the risk factors for suffering an eating disorder , explaining them in more detail and highlighting how they influence the appearance, especially of anorexia and bulimia.

  • Related article: ” The 10 most common eating disorders

Risk factors for eating disorders

The cause of eating disorders or eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder and unspecified eating behavior disorder) is multifactorial. In other words, several factors are involved in its formation, which include genetic aspects, psychological characteristics , sociocultural factors and environmental stressors.

Although today the specific weight of each of these factors and its components is not known with certainty, it is known that gender influences the chances of suffering from a TCA. Of every ten people diagnosed with one of them, 9 are women, and there is a greater risk of being diagnosed at the beginning of adulthood and childhood or prepubertal .

The risk factors are those that facilitate the onset of eating disorders. They can be individual, group and social factors. The combination of these different risk factors can cause the development and maintenance of the disease.

Next we will see these risk factors for eating disorders, grouped into individual factors, family factors and social factors , with which we will better understand how these eating disorders occur.

Individual factors

Next we will see the factors associated with the person’s own characteristics, whether of biological or social origin.

1. Genetic predisposition

You are more likely to have a TCA if a family member, especially a father, mother, brother or sister, has been diagnosed with one in the past. It has been seen that, in the case of anorexia, genetics seems to explain about 70% of the vulnerability to receiving the diagnosis .

Genetics can make the person have an unhealthy tendency with food, causing them to eat more than they need or, conversely, consume fewer calories than is needed to maintain organic functions.

The weight of this factor can be increased with others of an environmental nature, such as family environments in which excessive weight is given or unhealthy eating habits, as well as factors such as the group of friends.

2. Psychological features

There are certain personality traits, such as having too high self-demand, perfectionist tendencies close to obsession, cognitive rigidity and the need for control that are closely related to presenting an eating behavior disorder.

3. Low self-esteem

Low self-esteem involves making a negative and unsatisfactory assessment of oneself, which can affect any area of ​​life, especially in relation to food and how one looks in the mirror.

In the case of people with anorexia, this low self-esteem is easily observable by the way they see themselves, overestimating their body size .

When looking in the mirror or trying on clothes, a series of negative emotions are triggered that further aggravate the fact of having low self-esteem and worsens the symptoms of eating disorders.

  • You may be interested: ” Low self-esteem? When you become your worst enemy

4. Adolescence

A hard and traumatic adolescence is a very common event in people who, as adults, are diagnosed with a TCA. It is in these years that there is a greater risk of developing an eating disorder, since it is when he usually makes his debut, although the diagnosis is aggravated already passed the age of majority.

Adolescence is a complicated stage, in which the personality, social role and self-esteem of the person are in full development, being more vulnerable to a social environment in which great importance is given to body image.

  • You may be interested: ” The 3 stages of adolescence

5. Female sex

As we were commenting before, of every 10 cases of eating disorders, 9 are women and 1 are men . As you can see, there are many more possibilities that being a woman can be diagnosed with one of the eating disorders.

Family factors

Now we are going to see the factors that come directly from the family, the way in which it relates to the potentially victim of a TCA and the way in which they handle the diagnosis.

6. Unstructured family environment

In those families in which there is no stable and safe structure, a breeding ground is generated to develop a TCA in one of its members, especially adolescent girls.

7. Overprotective family environment

Sometimes, wanting to protect family members is done in such an exaggerated and toxic way that it contributes to psychopathology among its members.

There is a greater risk of having a TCA diagnosed in a person who has experienced a family dynamics that is too rigid, controlling and demanding .

8. Stressful family experiences

Changes in how the family is formed, whether by separation, death of a member or birth of a brother or sister who has not been handled in the best way, can make a family member see it as something especially traumatic.

It may also have happened that, within the same family, one of the members has committed physical or sexual abuse towards another family member, causing him to be traumatized for life and deal with the problem through the symptoms of eating disorders.

Social factors

Finally we will see the risk factors that come from the society itself , how it is structured and the way in which it relates and treats its members, especially women.

9. Current beauty fee

Although in recent years the “curvy” seems to take more, besides they begin to look attractive to a greater range of women with physicists of all kinds, the canon of female beauty remains that of a thin woman, without No fat or muscle.

Excessive thinness has been extolled in multiple media , especially in fashion shows and the covers of heart magazines.

Although great changes are being made, there are few women who, influenced by these means, continue to reject the idea of ​​looking fat, seeing it as something really grotesque, and defending that extreme thinness is ‘healthy’.

10. Social pressure on the image

Related to the previous point, in recent decades, both men and women have been giving greater importance to the image.

Not only are we talking about women being bombarded with images of extreme thinness as a synonym for beauty, but also that their family members, friends and other people pressure them to look alike.

This is not only visible in women, it also occurs in men, but since the canon of male beauty is very different, prioritizing extreme bodybuilding and pressing to be fibrated, vigorexia , the disorder associated with this, is not an eating disorder.

11. Some sports and professions

There are certain sports, such as dance or synchronized swimming, in which the appearance of a TCA can be favored , due to the way in which the image is treated when practicing this type of activities. Other sports in which you run the risk of having a great obsession with weight and what you ingest are those in which you compete for weight categories.

People who work in the world of fashion, show or are actors and actresses are also at risk of giving too much importance to their body image, being able to enter the murky world of eating disorders.

12. Bullying by the physicist

People who have received teasing and mockery for their physique, especially as teenagers and children, combined with a feeling of insecurity may end up developing an obsession with their body image , and evolve into something more serious.

13. The sizing system

The sizes of clothing, shoes and other items of clothing is not a unified system. Each manufacturer applies its own standards on which garment should be classified in one size or another. This means that size M in one store can be equivalent to an S or an L in other stores.

It may seem banal, but it is not, especially if it is a woman who for a lifetime believed to have a size, change stores and see that the same size is small, and decides to lose weight, despite being already thin. It is very difficult what the exact size of oneself is .

According to the report “Not finding your size promotes anorexia”, about 40% of the population decides to go on a diet when, when they go shopping, they don’t find clothes of their size , or they thought they had one and it turns out that, in the end, They are doing small.

14. Pages promoting TCAs

There are people who have these ACTs that, far from seeking help to try to get out of the well or try to understand their problem, do apology , although this is not difficult to understand if you understand the way in which the canon of beauty is still in force .

The existence of pages such as Pro-Ana and Pro-Mia not only defend having a TCA as a way of life, but also dare to give advice to ‘help’ other girls to move forward with their anorexia or bulimia.

They also teach how to trick family members into believing that they are eating or that their body is simply so by genetics. Access to these types of pages is very easy and, although more than one has been closed, they arise as if it were an epidemic.


by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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