Etiology of Eating Disorders
Many different factors influence the development of eating disorders.
Some evidence suggests a genetic vulnerability to eating
- Identical twins are more likely to both suffer from an eating
disorder than are fraternal twins.
- Biological relatives of people with bulimia nervosa and anorexia
nervosa appear to have an increased risk of developing the
Some researchers have noted that people with eating disorders are more
likely to have certain personality traits:
- People with anorexia nervosa tend to be obsessive, rigid,
neurotic, and emotionally inhibited.
- People with bulimia nervosa tend to be impulsive and oversensitive
and have poor self-esteem.
Cultural factors strongly influence the onset of eating disorders. One
example is the high value placed on thinness in industrial countries.
Family environment may also influence the onset of eating disorders:
- Some theorists have suggested that eating disorders are related to
insufficient autonomy within the family.
- Others have proposed that eating disorders might be affected by
mothers who place too much emphasis on body weight.
People with eating disorders show distortions of thinking, such as the
tendency to think in rigid all-or-none terms. It is unclear whether this
type of thinking causes the eating disorders or results from the eating