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Home > Wellness > Health Library > Eating Disorders: Cultural and Social Factors
Eating disorders occur most often in industrialized
cultures where there is an emphasis on thinness, especially if thinness is
linked to success. Magazines, television, and other media have created an
unrealistic image of the perfect, successful person. The pressure to be thin
can lead to intense dieting, even in very young children, which can turn into
an eating disorder in people who are more likely (predisposed) to get the
Professions and sports that require a certain body type may also
indirectly encourage eating disorders. Ballet, gymnastics, modeling, acting,
running, figure skating, swimming, jockeying, and wrestling often emphasize or
require a thin, lean body.
Certain family attitudes or dynamics may contribute to the risk of a
child or teen developing an eating disorder. The risk for eating disorders may
be higher in families that:
Young people who develop eating disorders often have a close but
troubled relationship with their parents. Although this is common in the teen
years, a person who is at high risk for developing an eating disorder will take
concerns over parental relationship problems to an extreme. The child may be
afraid of disappointing his or her parents or may be trying to control an
unspoken conflict or lack of harmony within the family.
August 25, 2011
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & W. Stewart Agras, MD, FRCPC - Psychiatry
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