Biological Causal Factors Of Anorexia Essay Assignment Paper
Biological Causal Factors Of Anorexia Essay Assignment Paper
Eating disorders are often biologically inherited and tend to run in families. Research suggests that inherited these genetic factors contribute approximately 56% of the risk for developing an eating disorder. People who have a mother or a sister with anorexia are approximately twelve times more likely to develop anorexia than those without a family history. They are also four times more likely to develop bulimia than those without a family history. Studies of twins have shown a higher rate of eating disorders when they are identical (compared to fraternal twins or other siblings). Research has also focused on abnormalities in the structure or activity of the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is a brain structure responsible for regulating eating behaviors. Studies suggest that the hypothalamus of those with bulimia may not trigger a response feeling of being full or finished eating. Because of this, even after a meal, they do not feel full.Biological Causal Factors Of Anorexia Paper
Research suggests that several different neurotransmitters in the brain are involved in eating disorders. The brain uses a number of chemicals as messengers to communicate with other parts of the brain and nervous system. These chemical messengers, known as neurotransmitters, are essential to all of the brain’s functions. Since they are messengers, they typically come from one place and go to another to deliver their messages. Where one neuron or nerve cell ends, another one begins.
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In between two linked neurons is a tiny space or gap called a synapse. In a simple example, one cell sends a neurotransmitter message across this gap and the next cell receives the signal by catching the messenger chemical as it floats across the gap. The receiving neuron’s capture of the neurotransmitter chemicals alerts it that a message has been sent, and this neuron in turn sends a new message off to additional neurons that it is connected to, and so on down the line.Biological Causal Factors Of Anorexia Paper
In our brain and nervous system, multiple messengers are working at the same time to control all sorts of functions. These include mood, appetite, energy level, memory, etc.
The neurotransmitter serotonin affects binging behavior in those with bulimia. These individuals often crave and eat a lot of foods rich in carbohydrates. The body converts sugars from carbohydrates, through a multi-step process, into tryptophan. Tryptophan is then used to create serotonin. Serotonin is partially responsible for the control of appetite, creating a sense of being full, and regulating emotions and judgment. Because of this, the binge behavior of those with bulimia may also be a response to low serotonin levels in the brain.
A research team at the University of Pittsburgh found that individuals successfully treated for bulimia still had abnormally low serotonin levels. Other brain chemicals, such as dopamine and norephinephrine, were normal when compared to people with no history of eating disorders. Bulimia was shown to be successfully treated with a medication typically used for depression. This medication acts to increase the amount of serotonin in the brain. Because this was a successful treatment, it provides additional evidence of the importance of serotonin as a possible cause of bulimia.
There is no sole cause of anorexia. For most who are impacted, a combination of several contributing factors – mainly biological, genetic and environmental – can influence the development of anorexia and associated symptoms. The exact root of the disorder is different for every person.Biological Causal Factors Of Anorexia Paper
Biological Causes of Anorexia
Many experts view anorexia as a biological illness of starvation, in which the starvation leads to malnutrition, which then results in the psychological symptoms associated with the disorder. Additional studies hint at deeper biological roots. Gray matter deficits in brain areas involved in emotion, motivation and goal-directed behavior have been reported. Other evidence shows the restricting behaviors associated with anorexia may stem from an imbalance between inhibitory and reward systems, which can lead to a shift in compulsive behavior.
Environmental Causes of Anorexia
Much attention has been placed on society and its promotion of a culture of thinness or “the ideal body,” often amplified through media and social networks. Further, pressures from home life, relationships with parents and/or peers or comments on body weight and appearance – although sometimes unintentional – can have a profound impact on individuals already susceptible to developing an eating disorder. Many with anorexia report experiencing harsh and extreme criticism related to their weight and appearance.
Emotional Causes of Anorexia
There can be a strong correlation between anorexia and specific personality traits, including perfectionism, obsessive-compulsiveness, rigidity and vulnerability to peer pressure.
Genetics and Family History
Studies in recent years have shown a possible link between anorexia and genetics. While not everyone whose parent or sibling has or had anorexia will experience it, studies have shown that the heritability of anorexia can range from 28%-74%, according to a study published by the National Institute of Mental Health.Biological Causal Factors Of Anorexia Paper
Other Predisposing Factors Involved with Anorexia
Other predisposing factors include trauma, substance abuse, and sexual or physical abuse.
Anorexia is frequently seen in occupations that place a great emphasis on body shape, appearance and weight, such as modeling, acting and competitive sports.
The presence of several co-occurring disorders can also lead to onset of anorexia, including mood and anxiety disorders, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and others.
Research provides strong evidence for an inherited predisposition (tendency) toward developing an eating disorder. In other words, eating disorders are often biologically inherited and tend to run in families. Recent research suggests that inherited biological and genetic factors contribute approximately 56% of the risk for developing an eating disorder. Individuals who have a mother or a sister with anorexia nervosa are approximately twelve times more likely to develop anorexia and four times more likely to develop bulimia than other individuals without a family history of these disorders. Studies of twins have shown a higher rate of eating disorders when they are identical (compared to fraternal twins or other siblings). Samples of DNA, the substance inside cells that carries genetic information, from pairs of siblings with eating disorders are now being analyzed to determine if they share genetic characteristics that are different from pairs of siblings without these disorders.Biological Causal Factors Of Anorexia Paper
Research has also focused on abnormalities in the structure or activity of the hypothalamus, a brain structure responsible for regulating eating behaviors. Studies suggest that the hypothalamus of bulimics may not trigger a normal satiation (feeling full or finished) response. So, even after a meal, these individuals do not feel full. A wealth of research suggests that several different neurotransmitters are involved in eating disorders. Before discussing the contributions of specific neurotransmitters to different disorders, it is important to provide a bit of background about the functioning of these chemicals.
Neurotransmitters carry messages from cell to cell throughout the brain and nervous system. Neurotransmitters released from one cell travel across a cellular space (called a synapse) and attach to another cell’s receptors. These receptors are specifically designed to receive certain neurotransmitters. In our brain and nervous system, multiple neurotransmitters are working simultaneously to control all sorts of functions such as mood, appetite, energy level, memory, etc. The effect of the neurotransmitter depends on the type of receptor being stimulated (i.e., whether it slows down or speeds up the receiving cell) as well as the part of the brain or nervous system that receives it. For example, serotonin (discussed below) can affect sleep, eating, temperature regulation, muscle movement, memory, and host of other behaviors depending on the specific receptors stimulated, and where in the body or brain those receptors are located.
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The neurotransmitter serotonin affects binging behavior in bulimics. These individuals often crave (and gorge) on foods rich in carbohydrates. The body converts sugars from carbohydrates, through a multi-step process, into tryptophan. Tryptophan is then used to create serotonin, which is partially responsible for the regulation of appetite, creating a sense of satiation, and regulating emotions and judgment. Thus, the binge behavior of bulimics may also be a response to low serotonin levels in the brain. A research team at the University of Pittsburgh found that individuals successfully treated for bulimia still had abnormally low serotonin levels, although other brain chemicals, such as dopamine and norephinephrine, were normal in comparison to individuals with no history of eating disorders. The successful treatment of bulimia with Prozac (a medication typically used for depression), which acts to increase the amount of serotonin in the brain, is additional evidence of the importance of this brain chemical.Biological Causal Factors Of Anorexia Paper
Anorexia (an-o-REK-see-uh) nervosa — often simply called anorexia — is an eating disorder characterized by an abnormally low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of weight. People with anorexia place a high value on controlling their weight and shape, using extreme efforts that tend to significantly interfere with their lives.
To prevent weight gain or to continue losing weight, people with anorexia usually severely restrict the amount of food they eat. They may control calorie intake by vomiting after eating or by misusing laxatives, diet aids, diuretics or enemas. They may also try to lose weight by exercising excessively. No matter how much weight is lost, the person continues to fear weight gain.
Anorexia isn’t really about food. It’s an extremely unhealthy and sometimes life-threatening way to try to cope with emotional problems. When you have anorexia, you often equate thinness with self-worth.
Anorexia, like other eating disorders, can take over your life and can be very difficult to overcome. But with treatment, you can gain a better sense of who you are, return to healthier eating habits and reverse some of anorexia’s serious complications.
The physical signs and symptoms of anorexia nervosa are related to starvation. Anorexia also includes emotional and behavioral issues involving an unrealistic perception of body weight and an extremely strong fear of gaining weight or becoming fat.
It may be difficult to notice signs and symptoms because what is considered a low body weight is different for each person, and some individuals may not appear extremely thin. Also, people with anorexia often disguise their thinness, eating habits or physical problems.Biological Causal Factors Of Anorexia Paper
Physical signs and symptoms of anorexia may include:
- Extreme weight loss or not making expected developmental weight gains
- Thin appearance
- Abnormal blood counts
- Dizziness or fainting
- Bluish discoloration of the fingers
- Hair that thins, breaks or falls out
- Soft, downy hair covering the body
- Absence of menstruation
- Constipation and abdominal pain
- Dry or yellowish skin
- Intolerance of cold
- Irregular heart rhythms
- Low blood pressure
- Swelling of arms or legs
- Eroded teeth and calluses on the knuckles from induced vomiting
Some people who have anorexia binge and purge, similar to individuals who have bulimia. But people with anorexia generally struggle with an abnormally low body weight, while individuals with bulimia typically are normal to above normal weight.
Emotional and behavioral symptoms
Behavioral symptoms of anorexia may include attempts to lose weight by:
- Severely restricting food intake through dieting or fasting
- Exercising excessively
- Bingeing and self-induced vomiting to get rid of food, which may include the use of laxatives, enemas, diet aids or herbal products
Emotional and behavioral signs and symptoms may include:
- Preoccupation with food, which sometimes includes cooking elaborate meals for others but not eating them
- Frequently skipping meals or refusing to eat
- Denial of hunger or making excuses for not eating
- Eating only a few certain “safe” foods, usually those low in fat and calories
- Adopting rigid meal or eating rituals, such as spitting food out after chewing
- Not wanting to eat in public
- Lying about how much food has been eaten
- Fear of gaining weight that may include repeated weighing or measuring the body
- Frequent checking in the mirror for perceived flaws
- Complaining about being fat or having parts of the body that are fat
- Covering up in layers of clothing
- Flat mood (lack of emotion)
- Social withdrawal
- Reduced interest in sex
There is some evidence to support that some people may be genetically more likely to develop eating disorders. For example, eating disorders tend to run in families. Therefore, a young woman with a biological sister, mother, or other relative who suffers from an eating disorder is more than 10 times as likely to develop an eating disorder herself as compared to someone whose relatives do not show a history of anorexia. Families should take special care to make certain a young persons weight remains in a healthy range and eating stays in balance. Some studies have even shown the heritably of eating disorders, including anorexia, to be over 50%. While it is not particularly clear how these biological risk factors interplay, research suggests specific chromosomes that may be associated with an increased susceptibility to anorexia nervosa.
Biological factors may include an abnormal biochemical make up of the brain, which makes certain individuals more likely to develop an eating disorder. The hypothalami-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) is responsible for releasing certain neurotransmitters including serotonin, nor-epinephrine, and dopamine, which regulate stress, mood, and appetite. In studies of individuals with eating disorders, it has been found that serotonin and epinephrine levels maybe decreased. This suggests a link between abnormal biochemical make up and functioning of the HPA and the likelihood that an individual will develop an eating disorder.
Researchers believe that several psychological and emotional characteristics can be linked as causes of anorexia. For example, people suffering from anorexia tent to have low self-worth and low-self esteem as compared to other individuals. Additionally, individuals with anorexia generally exhibit obsessive behaviors regarding food and diets and may often also display obsessive-compulsive personality traits in other parts of their life. Finally, another possible psychological cause of anorexia may be a strong, even extreme drive for perfectionism. Because of this desire for perfectionism, individuals who develop anorexia are led to think that they are never thin enough regardless of how much weight is lost.
A commonly discussed and debated cause of anorexia stems from the sociocultural influences commonly found in modern Western culture. Because Western culture reinforces a desire for thinness and often displays extreme, unrealistic thinness as beautiful through popular models and actors, it is commonly blamed as resulting in an increased likelihood that individuals will develop anorexia. Similarly, success and self-worth are commonly associated with being thin in this culture. Further fueling the desire to be thin, and thus increasing the risk for dangerous eating disorder behavior, can be peer pressure and teasing others about looks or weight.Biological Causal Factors Of Anorexia Paper
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Regardless of the exact causes of anorexia, if you feel that you or a loved one may be suffering from anorexia nervosa, it is important to begin eating disorder treatment as soon as possible. The dangerous health risks of anorexia that can occur in both teens and adults make this a serious mental disorder that requires professional treatment. McCallum Place Eating Disorder Centers in St. Louis and Kansas City can help you begin the anorexia treatment program that is right for you to overcome this life threatening disorder and return to a happy and healthy lifestyle.
Eating disorders include a range of conditions that involve an obsession with food, weight and appearance. The obsession is often so strong that it disrupts an individual’s health, social and familial relationships, occupations and daily activities. It is estimated that over 10 million people in the United States suffer from eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder, and the statistics are growing.
Research on the causes of eating disorders is constantly evolving, and we continue to gain increased insight into risk factors that may contribute to the illness. However, the answers remain multi-factorial, and they reflect a complex combination of psychological factors that may intersect differently for each person.
Several major risk factors for eating disorders are outlined below.
Increasing numbers of family, twin, and adoption research studies have provided compelling evidence to show that genetic factors contribute to a predisposition for eating disorders.1 In other words, individuals who are born with certain phenotype are at heightened risk for the development of an eating disorder. This also means that eating disorders are heritable. Individuals who have had a family member with an eating disorder are 7-12 times more likely to develop one themselves. Newer research is exploring a possible epigenetic influence on eating disorder development. Epigenetics is a process by which environmental effects alter the way genes are expressed.
Some of the genes that have been identified to contribute to eating disorders are associated with specific personality traits. These aspects of personality are thought to be highly heritable and often exist before the eating disorder and can persist after recovery.2,3 The following traits are common among people who develop an eating disorder but all of these personality characteristics can exist in the absence of an eating disorder as well.4,5Biological Causal Factors Of Anorexia Paper
- obsessive thinking
- sensitivity to reward and punishment, harm avoidance
- neuroticism6 (emotional instability and hypersensitivity)
- impulsivity, especially in bulimia nervosa
- rigidity and excessive persistence, especially in anorexia nervosa
Even in healthy individuals without eating disorders, states of semi-starvation have been shown to trigger obsessive behavior around food, depression, anxiety and neuroticism that promote a continued cycle of starvation7. Additionally, brain imaging studies have shown that people with eating disorders may have altered brain circuitry that contributes to eating disorders.8,9 Differences in the anterior insula, striatal regions, and anterior ventral striatal pathway have been discovered. Problems with the serotonin pathway have also been discovered.10,11 These differences may help to explain why people who develop anorexia nervosa are able to inhibit their appetite, why people who develop binge eating disorder are vulnerable to overeating when they are hungry, and why people who develop bulimia nervosa have less ability to control impulses to purge.
Traumatic events such as physical or sexual abuse sometimes precipitate the development of an eating disorder.12-14 Survivors of trauma often struggle with shame, guilt, body dissatisfaction and a feeling of a lack of control. The eating disorder may become the individual’s attempt to regain control or cope with these intense emotions. In some cases, the eating disorder is an expression of self-harm or misdirected self-punishment for the trauma. As many as 50% of those with eating disorders may also be struggling with trauma disorders. It’s important to treat both conditions concurrently in a comprehensive and integrated approach which is why The Center for Eating Disorders offers a specialized treatment track for women and men with eating disorders who’ve also experienced trauma.Biological Causal Factors Of Anorexia Paper
Individuals with eating disorders are often lacking the skills to tolerate negative experiences. Behaviors such as restricting, purging, bingeing and excessive exercise often develop in response to emotional pain, conflict, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, stress or trauma. In the absence of more positive coping skills, the eating disorder behaviors may provide acute relief from distress but quickly lead to more physical and psychological harm. Instead of helping, the eating disorder behaviors only serve to maintain a dangerous cycle of emotional dysregulation and numbing feelings. Effective treatment for the eating disorder involves education about and practice of alternative coping mechanisms and self-soothing techniques such as in Dialectic Behavior Therapy.
Our media’s increased obsession with the thin-ideal and industry promotion of a “perfect” body may contribute to unrealistic body ideals in people with and without eating disorders.15,16 An increase in access to global media and technological advances such as Photoshop and airbrushing have further skewed our perception of attainable beauty standards. In 1998, a researcher documented the response of adolescents in rural Fiji to the introduction of western television.17,18 This new media exposure resulted in significant preoccupations related to shape and weight, purging behavior to control weight, and negative body image. This landmark study illustrated a vulnerability to the images and values imported with media. Given that many individuals exposed to media and cultural ideals do not develop clinical eating disorders, it may be that individuals already at-risk, have increased vulnerability to society’s messages about weight and beauty and, perhaps, seek out increased exposure to them.Biological Causal Factors Of Anorexia Paper
Dieting is the most common precipitating factor in the development of an eating disorder. In the U.S., more than $60 billion is spent every year on diets and weight-loss products. Despite dieting’s 95-98% failure rate, people continue to buy dangerous products and take extreme measures to lose weight. Restrictive dieting is not effective for weight loss and is an unhealthy behavior for anyone, especially children and adolescents. For individuals who are genetically predisposed to eating disorders, dieting can be the catalyst for heightened obsessions about weight and food. Dieting also intensifies feelings of guilt and shame around food which may ultimately contribute to a cycle of restricting, purging, bingeing or excessive exercise. 9.5 out of 10 people who lose weight through dieting gain back all of their weight within 1-5 years; half of them gain back to a weight that’s above their starting weight. More worrisome though is that dieting is associated with higher rates of depression and eating disorders and increased health problems related to weight cycling. Intuitive eating and the health-at-every size paradigms are recommended as alternatives to diets for people looking to improve their health and overall well-being.
Unfortunately, in the past, parents were often blamed as the cause of their child’s eating disorder. As more research is done on the diverse contributing factors discussed above, it becomes more and more clear that this is not the case. While stressful or chaotic family situations may intersect with other triggers to exacerbate or maintain the illness, they do not cause eating disorders. Its also important to note that some family dynamics, which were once assumed to be precursors to an eating disorder, may actually develop as a response to a family member’s struggle with an eating disorder. The Academy of Eating Disorders (AED) released a position paper that clarifies the role of the family in the acquisition of eating disorders. The paper points out that there is no data to support the idea that eating disorders are caused by a certain type of family dynamic or parenting style. Alternatively, there is strong evidence families play an integral role in the recovery process. In particular, family-based treatment for younger patients, implemented early on in their illness, leads to positive results and improvements in conjunction with professionally guided family interventions. The family is an integral system in the healthy development of a child. While parents and families are not to blame for eating disorders, they can play a role in helping kids establish a positive body image, healthy coping skills and eating competence which are all important protective factors against eating disorders.
The exact causes of anorexia nervosa are unknown. However, there are many risk factors — among them, social, genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological — that may contribute to this complex condition.Biological Causal Factors Of Anorexia Paper
Sociocultural influences can play a large role in attitudes about weight and negative body perceptions. Because unrealistic thinness is prized in western culture, it has reinforced the notion that thin is the ideal body type for everyone, and therefore fuels a sense of dissatisfaction in young women, in particular, when they are unable to attain a certain weight. Eating disorders stem from not being able to achieve this unrealistic goal. Self-worth and success are also equated with thinness in our culture, which further perpetuates the desire to be thin and increases the chances of developing a serious eating disorder.
Genetics and biology can also contribute to anorexia. Eating disorders tend to run in families. If an immediate family member suffers from anorexia, there is a greater likelihood that someone else in that family may be genetically predisposed to an eating disorder, as well; more specifically, certain chromosomes may increase susceptibility to this disease.
Biological factors that could influence eating disorders include altered biochemistry of the brain, which makes certain individuals more likely to develop an eating disorder. The hypothalami-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) releases neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, and nor epinephrine) that regulate stress, mood, and appetite. Research has discovered that serotonin and epinephrine levels may be decreased in those with anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders, which suggests a connection between HPA functioning and abnormal biochemical make up and the likelihood that an individual will develop an eating disorder.
There are a number of environmental factors that can contribute to developing anorexia. If a person grows up in a family where they were criticized for their looks, or in a controlling atmosphere where thinness is valued over character or other more defining characteristics of a healthy, thriving person, they might develop a distorted sense of self and body image. Peer pressure and bullying can also influence one’s sense of self-esteem, leaving them feeling that they are not good enough. Trauma and abuse can also contribute to anorexia. Additionally, in many cases, those diagnosed with anorexia nervosa are more likely to suffer from anxiety.
There are several psychological characteristics that may make a person vulnerable to developing anorexia. Perfectionism is a driving force for those seeking to control their food intake. The very nature of perfectionism leaves these individuals perpetually unsatisfied in their quest for thinness. Those who develop eating disorders are more inclined to have low self worth and low self esteem. They may also exhibit OCD behaviors regarding food and diet.
When we get sick, we typically want to understand why. This search for explanations pertains generally to any illness, from diabetes to cancer to the flu. When applied to eating disorders, which are associated with many negative stereotypes, the question of causation is especially confusing.
The culture at large, and even some health professionals, commonly blame eating disorders on oversimplified explanations, such as the media’s promotion of unrealistically slender models or on bad parenting.Biological Causal Factors Of Anorexia Paper
Based on recent research, we know that families—longtime scapegoats—do not cause eating disorders, at least not in any simple, straightforward manner. For example, while growing up in a dysfunctional home could increase the risk for a number of psychological problems, including eating disorders, it does not condemn a child to a psychological disorder, let alone an eating disorder.
In fact, we can’t say for sure what exactly causes an eating disorder in an individual, and we can’t predict who will go on to develop an eating disorder. In general, most experts agree that:
- eating disorders are complicated illnesses that stem not from a single cause but from a complex interaction of biological, psychological, and environmental factors; and
- there are many different pathways to what is essentially the same outcome (e.g., anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder).
Let’s look at some of the areas of research on the causes of eating disorders.
- Low body mass index (BMI)
- Thin-ideal internalization – the degree to which a person believes that thinness is equivalent to attractiveness
- Perceived pressure to be thin – what a person believes to be preference for thinness among others around them
- Body dissatisfaction – negative body image
- Negative affect – unpleasant feelings (e.g., fear, anger, and sadness and varieties thereof)
Binge eating disorder
- None identified at this time Biological Causal Factors Of Anorexia Paper
However, these are likely not the only factors that may contribute to the development of an eating disorder. These are merely the ones that have met a higher burden of proof in research. For instance, there is not yet enough evidence to support that dieting behavior is a causal factor for anorexia nervosa, but future studies may show that it is (and as noted above, it is already known that low BMI, one result of extreme dieting, is a causal factor for anorexia nervosa). In addition, others might criticize this list because these risk factors are so closely similar to the actual symptoms of these illnesses.
Many other factors have been, or are being, studied as possible contributors to the development of eating disorders:Biological Causal Factors Of Anorexia Paper
- Weight-related teasing and critical comments about weight
- Fixation with a thin body
- Peer pressure
- Early childhood feeding and eating problems and gastrointestinal problems
- Low self-esteem
- Body dissatisfaction
- Anxiety and depression
- Childhood sexual abuseYou can see that identifying actual causal factors for an eating disorder is complicated. As well, determining whether these factors are present in an individual can be difficult. Furthermore, the presence of these factors, each of which predicts higher risk, does not guarantee the development of an eating disorder.Biological Causal Factors Of Anorexia Paper
Genetic explanations have received increased focus in the last 10 years. The primary reason that eating disorders run in families appears to be genetics. Coming from a family with a history of eating disorders can increase one’s risk of developing an eating disorder. A portion of this increased risk could potentially be due to the modeling of eating disorder-linked behaviors within a family (e.g., observing a family member dieting). However, twin study research, which can isolate the role of genetics, has confirmed that approximately 40-60% of the risk for anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder arises from genetic influence.
This finding does not imply that there exists a single eating disorder gene, or even that genes cause eating disorders. It is more likely that for some people, variations in several different genes contribute in various degrees to traits that in turn increase or decrease their risk for these disorders. Some individuals may inherit traits such as anxiety, fear, perfectionism, or moodiness that have been associated with the development of an eating disorder. It is worth noting, however, that these aspects of temperament have been linked to a number of other disorders, too.Biological Causal Factors Of Anorexia Paper
Some individuals with eating disorders are able to identify several other family members who also had eating disorders. There are certain families in which the risk of eating disorders is much higher than in the general population, but such families are relatively rare. Even a high-risk family history indicating an increased genetic risk does not mean that one is destined to develop an eating disorder.
Conversely, not everyone who has an eating disorder can identify another family member with one. Though genetics does play a role in the development of eating disorders, it is important to note that the occurrence of eating disorders is low enough that many – in fact, a clear majority of – cases are sporadic, with no family history. Given the smaller size of today’s families, there is often not enough data to determine whether a specific individual has a genetic tendency. In addition, eating disorders are stigmatized diseases, and family members often do not share their struggles with their disorder, with extended or even immediate family members.
Previous genetic studies have not found specific genes associated with risk likely partly because the studies were not big enough to detect such genes. However, convincing evidence has been found that genes contribute to the development of eating disorders. The largest and most rigorous genetic investigation of eating disorders ever conducted, the Anorexia Nervosa Genetics Initiative (ANGI), has just completed blood collection and shown some initial results. This project is being conducted by researchers in the United States, Sweden, Australia, United Kingdom, and Denmark. Hopefully, soon researchers will be able to provide more information about the genetic profile that contributes to eating disorders.Biological Causal Factors Of Anorexia Paper
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