Risk Factors of Anorexia

Social factors

  • Cultural value placed on thinness as an inextricable part of beauty
  • Current cultural emphasis on the goal to strive for a ‘perfect’ body
  • Valuing of people according to outward appearance and not inner qualities
  • Media and popular culture’s unrealistic portrayal of people’s shapes and bodies
  • Pressure to achieve and succeed
  • Professions with an emphasis on body shape and size (eg. dancers, models, athletes)

Biological factors

  • Scientists are currently researching possible biochemical and biological factors and their role in the development of eating disorders. Research has indicated that in some people with eating disorders there is an imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain
  • Adolescence and the associated physical, hormonal and neural changes
  • Genetic or familial factors, for example a person who is exposed to a parent or sibling with an eating disorder is at a higher risk of developing an eating disorder themselves. While no conclusive outcome has been reached, research has provided evidence that in some cases this is due to genetic predisposition rather than learned behaviour

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