Do genetics influence how likely one is to develop an eating disorder?

Genetics do play a role in how likely one is to develop an eating disorder, but environment is a factor, too. By environment experts mean one's sociocultural environment that may include the people around one, the media to which one is exposed, current fashions and of course dieting activities.

One way to think about the risk for developing an eating disorder is to say that genetics load the gun, but environment pulls the trigger. Someone can't change her genes, but she can change certain things in the environment that influence whether she expresses her genetic predisposition. For that reason, in treating eating disorders, doctors tend to work with families to focus on making healthy changes in a person's environment rather than to blame someone's family or genes for causing the eating disorder. Overcoming eating disorders can be a challenge, and in meeting this challenge, a family can be one's best ally.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.