Genetic, Environmental, and Biochemical Factors With Anorexia
Genetic and Environmental FactorsAnorexia appears to run in families, with female relatives most often affected. However, there is growing evidence that a girl's immediate social environment, including her family and friends, can emphasize the importance of thinness and weight control. For example, regular discussion of weight and dieting may normalize societal pressure to be thin. Weight-related teasing by peers and family is related to low self-esteem, a poor body image, and eating disturbances in young girls.
Studies have shown that girls who live in families that tend to be strict and place strong emphasis on physical attractiveness and weight control are at an increased risk for inappropriate eating behaviors.
Additionally, people pursuing professions or activities that emphasize thinness -- like modeling, dancing, gymnastics, wrestling, and long-distance running -- are more susceptible to anorexia.
BiochemistryRecent studies have revealed a connection between biological factors associated with clinical depression and the development of anorexia nervosa. Stress hormones, such as cortisol, are elevated in those with anorexia, while neurotransmitters such as serotonin may not function correctly. Research continues to better understand this relationship.