Certain situations and events might increase the risk of developing an eating disorder. These risk factors may include:
Feb. 08, 2012
- Being female. Teenage girls and young women are more likely than are teenage boys and young men to have eating disorders.
- Age. Although eating disorders can occur across a broad age range — from pre-adolescents to older adults — they are much more common during the teens and early 20s.
- Family history. Eating disorders are significantly more likely to occur in people who have parents or siblings who've had an eating disorder.
- Emotional disorders. People with depression, anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder are more likely to have an eating disorder.
- Dieting. People who lose weight are often reinforced by positive comments from others and by their changing appearance. This may cause some people to take dieting too far, leading to an eating disorder.
- Transitions. Whether it's heading off to college, moving, landing a new job or a relationship breakup, change can bring emotional distress, which may increase your susceptibility to an eating disorder.
- Sports, work and artistic activities. Athletes, actors and television personalities, dancers, and models are at higher risk of eating disorders. Eating disorders are particularly common among ballerinas, gymnasts, runners and wrestlers. Coaches and parents may unwittingly contribute to eating disorders by encouraging young athletes to lose weight.
- 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.
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