Why do people develop eating disorders?

Marjorie Nolan Cohn
Nutrition & Dietetics
There are many, many reasons why someone develops an eating disorder. One of the primary factors is trauma. A trauma may include verbal or physical abuse, family death, illness, and or any other traumatizing event in one’s life. The trauma sparks a need to cope, and for those who don’t have a positive support system or the capacity to cope in a healthy way food may become the coping mechanism. This includes restriction, binging/purging, and/or binging – in many cases in involves some combination of all. There is also some evidence that eating disorders are hereditary. This may be genetic, environmentally learned behaviors and/or a combination of both. 
It's tempting to blame psychological problems or an unhealthy family dynamic when someone develops an eating disorder -- but researchers say that the real reasons are very different. In this video, Dr. Walter Kaye, of NORMAL nonprofit, discusses the biological underpinnings of this dangerous problem.

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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.