Whats are the major causes of eating disorders in females?


Eating disorders are serious, potentially life-threatening illnesses. They affect about 20 million people, 95 percent of whom are women. They usually begin in childhood and are most common in girls between ages 12-25, though they can occur at any age. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder are the most commonly diagnosed eating disorders.

Binge eating disorder is characterized by episodes of excessive and uncontrollable eating, followed by purging behaviors such as vomiting or taking laxatives to compensate. It’s important to note that anorexia nervosa and bulimia are not about weight loss, but rather about control, feelings and self-expression. Women who have these illnesses often feel they have no control over other areas of their lives and try to gain control by controlling their eating.

Health risks of Eating Disorders

There are many health hazards associated with eating disorders, including heart complications, dehydration and malnutrition. For example, a slow pulse (a sign of malnutrition) and low potassium levels can lead to heart problems. Purging behaviors, such as fasting and using laxatives, also deplete the body of electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, that help the heart beat and muscles contract. This can cause a condition called electrolyte imbalance, which can be fatal.

Certain factors can increase a person’s risk of developing an eating disorder, such as a family history of eating disorders or other mental health problems like anxiety or depression. Stress can also be a factor, especially when it’s related to a change in lifestyle, such as going off to college or starting a job, or changes in family or social dynamics. Research suggests that acculturation, or the process of learning about Western culture, may contribute to eating disorders in some people, such as those in Fiji who developed severe eating disorders within three years of Western television being introduced.