What Causes Eating Disorders In Teens?

2232 words - 9 pages

This research plan is about the causes of eating disorders among teenagers. Environmental and personal factors play important roles in determining eating patterns and these need to be examined in order to understand how they are related or not to eating disorders. In so doing, it will also be possible to determine the significance of this research and apply it to the modern-day context.

Literature review
Recent studies have shown that eating disorders, termed EDs, are gradually taking on a great significance in the modern world. It would perhaps be best to determine the causes of EDs in general and then find out the type of ED they lead to consequently. Several reasons have been forward as causes of EDs, and these can be broadly classified into biological, social, environmental and psychological. On the biological level, there is perhaps heredity and as far as the environmental issues are concerned, family inadequacy and peer pressure to conform to a certain image. This may in turn be related to the social aspect, mainly with popular figures who are viewed as the ‘role models’ by adolescents, leading to dissatisfaction with the physical appearance. Environmental issues would include aspects such as depression due to family problems, and pressure from peers as far as appearance is concerned.

What are eating disorders?
Before considering eating disorders, it is perhaps necessary to understand what is meant by a relatively normal eating pattern in adolescents and using that as background, mark the links, or the discrepancies, which develop into what is known as eating disorders. In so doing it is essential to understand that there is a marked difference between individuals with unusual eating habits and those suffering from eating disorders. The figure below could help in understanding some eating patterns in adolescents:-
(Sigman, G. S., 2003)
Eating disorders can be broadly defined as any of a series of psychological imbalances that involve excessive or insufficient food intake or their associates. They can be classed mainly into four categories namely ‘anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and eating disorder not otherwise specified’ (Treasure, Claudino & Zucker, 2010). In order to understand what leads to EDs, it is necessary to understand what each disorder is about.
‘Eating disorders involve self-critical, negative thoughts and feelings about appearance and food, and eating behaviour that harms normal body composition and functioning’ (Health Insite, 2010). Understanding briefly what the different EDs, especially AN and BN are about could also help in determining their causes. Anorexia nervosa, or AN, is a condition in which loss of appetite results from severe emotional disturbance. It is life-threatening in that it can lead to extremely low body weight. BN, on the other hand, is ‘characterised by periods of binge eating, which is eating large amounts of food in a rapid,...

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