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The exact cause of eating disorders is unknown. However, many doctors believe that a combination of genetic, physical, social, and psychological factors may contribute to the development of an eating disorder.
Certain genes may increase a person’s susceptibility to developing an eating disorder. According to the Mayo Clinic, people with first-degree relatives who have an eating disorder are more likely to have one, too.
Research suggests that serotonin may influence eating behaviors. Serotonin is a naturally-occurring brain chemical that helps regulate mood, learning, and sleep, among other things.
People with an eating disorder may have an underlying psychological or mental health problem that may contribute to the disorder. These problems may include:
Success and worth are often equated with physical beauty and a slim physique. This is especially true in Western culture. The desire to succeed or feel accepted may fuel behaviors associated with eating disorders.
Certain genetic, social, and environmental factors may increase a person’s risk for developing an eating disorder. Some of these risk factors include the following:
Women are more commonly affected by eating disorders, but men are not immune. In fact, according to a 2007 Harvard University study, one-quarter of Americans with anorexia or bulimia are male. The same study found that 40 percent of Americans with a binge-eating disorder are male.
Some men suffer from a condition called muscle dysmorphia, which describes an extreme desire to become more muscular. While most women with eating disorders wish to lose weight and be very thin, men with this disorder see themselves as too small and want to gain weight or increase muscle mass. Men with this type of disorder may engage in dangerous behaviors like steroid use, and may also use other types of drugs to increase muscle mass more quickly.
However, men are less likely to be diagnosed with an eating disorder, even when they exhibit very similar or the same symptoms as a woman.
The exact reason why men are less likely to be diagnosed with eating disorders is unknown. However, research published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that many young men with eating disorders don’t seek treatment because they are ashamed of having a stereotypically female disorder. The same study suggests that binge-eating disorders may go unnoticed in young men, perhaps because young men who overeat attract less attention than young women who exhibit the same behaviors.
Written by: Kimberly Holland and Tim Jewell
Published on: Nov 26, 2014on: Mar 03, 2017
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