The exact cause of eating disorders is unknown. As with other mental illnesses, there may be many causes. Possible causes of eating disorders include:
Feb. 08, 2012
- Biology. There may be genes that make certain people more vulnerable to developing eating disorders. People with first-degree relatives — siblings or parents — with an eating disorder may be more likely to develop an eating disorder, too, suggesting a possible genetic link. In addition, there's some evidence that serotonin, a naturally occurring brain chemical, may influence eating behaviors.
- Psychological and emotional health. People with eating disorders may have psychological and emotional problems that contribute to the disorder. They may have low self-esteem, perfectionism, impulsive behavior and troubled relationships.
- Society. The modern Western cultural environment often cultivates and reinforces a desire for thinness. Success and worth are often equated with being thin in popular culture. Peer pressure and what people see in the media may fuel this desire to be thin, particularly among young girls.
- Forman SF. Eating disorders: Epidemiology, pathogenesis and clinical features. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Nov. 22, 2011.
- Eating disorders. National Mental Health Information Center. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/eating-disorders/complete-index.shtml. Accessed Nov. 22, 2011.
- Eating disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM IV-TR. 4th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2000. http://psychiatryonline.com. Accessed Nov. 22, 2011.
- Ranzenhofer LM, et al. Eating disorders. In: South-Paul JE, et al., eds. Current Diagnosis & Treatment in Family Medicine. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=8150394. Accessed Oct. 20, 2011.
- Grave RD. Eating disorders: Progress and challenges. European Journal of Internal Medicine. 2011;22:153.
- Steffen KJ, et al. A prevalence study and description of Alli use by patients with eating disorders. International Journal of Eating Disorders. 2010; 43:472.
- Steffen KJ, et al. A survey of herbal and alternative medication use among participants with eating disorder symptoms. International Journal of Eating Disorders. 2006:39;741.
- Breuner CC. Complementary, holistic, and integrative medicine: Eating disorders. Pediatrics in Review. 2010;31:e75.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.