The exact cause of eating disorders is unknown. As with other mental illnesses, there may be many causes, such as:

  • Genetics. Certain people may have genes that increase their risk of 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.
  • 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. 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.
Feb. 14, 2015