National Eating Disorders Association

Eating disorders are complex conditions that can arise from a combination of long-standing behavioral, biological, emotional, psychological, interpersonal, and social factors. Once started, however, they can create a self-perpetuating cycle of physical and emotional destruction.

Although scientists are still investigating the factors that can contribute to the development of an eating disorder, they have identified some risk factors for the development of an eating disorder.

Psychological Risk Factors

  • Perfectionism
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Difficulties regulating emotion
  • Obsessive-compulsive behaviors
  • Rigid thinking style (only one right way to do things, etc.)

Sociocultural Risk Factors

  • Cultural promotion of the thin ideal
  • Size and weight prejudice
  • Emphasis on dieting
  • “Ideal bodies” include only a narrow range of shapes and sizes

Biological Risk Factors

  • Having a close family member with an eating disorder
  • Family history of depression, anxiety, and/or addiction
  • Personal history of depression, anxiety, and/or addiction
  • Presence of food allergies that contribute to picky or restrictive eating (e.g. celiac disease)
  • Presence of Type 1 Diabetes