Essay Paper on Eating Disorders and Genetics

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The sun was casting its last orange rays into the sky, marking the end of the day. Sarah just got back home from school. She looked pale, almost malnourished. Her skin had wrinkles, and her face looked hollow. She quickly tossed her bag to the side of her bed and ran to the mirror. In a split second, all of her clothes came off. Sarah stood there, all bare, with a weak smile etched on her face. She felt accomplished, elated, and proud of her physique. Her thighs were thin and her ribs were visible. To her, she looked fabulous. Sarah further continued by reaching for her diary placed neatly on her table. Pages were flipped until she landed on a specific page titled, days without eating. Sarah wrote down the number ten. In recent years, eating disorders among teenagers have become selectively popular. According to research conducted in the United States, as many as 10 in 100 teenagers suffer from an eating disorder. Regarding this pressing issue, many have voiced their concern and opinions. One of them is none other than Demi Lovato herself. In a recent interview, Demi sternly mentioned that eating disorders are serious illnesses, not lifestyle choices. On that note, based on the narrative above, the most essential question that should be running through your mind is, ‘What are the causes for teenagers to develop eating disorders?’ The answer is rather simple! The causes of eating disorders among teenagers are socio-cultural influences, genetic vulnerability, and psychological issues.

One of the primary causes of eating disorders among teenagers is due to genetic vulnerability. Precisely, genetic influences that are inherited from either parent contribute to developing an eating disorder. Although the connection between eating disorders and a person’s genes is still being heavily researched, studies have shown that the chance for an average person to become anorexic is about half a percent. Also, in the year 2000, researchers found that those who have anorexic family members increased the chance by eleven-fold. To summarize, people with anorexic family members run a higher risk of developing eating disorders. Changes in brain chemicals are also another factor in genetic vulnerability. When a person with anorexia is in the presence of food, they become overwhelmed with feelings and thoughts that make them more rigid, such as counting calorie intake at every meal, weighing themselves several times throughout the day, and making poor choices in the types of foods they eat. A study by Holsen in the year 2012 has shown those with anorexia have an internal mechanism that decreases appetite and the ability to detect hunger. To elaborate further, certain parts of the brain such as the hypothalamus which is the body’s thermostat in detecting hunger, the amygdala, the fear response region of the brain and the anterior insula, the part of the brain responsible for interoceptive awareness including the body and emotions slow down in the presence of food. Thus, we can concur that eating disorders have a genetic basis.

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Apart from that, socio-cultural influences also play a role in the development of eating disorders among teenagers. This includes media culture in the form of magazines and television that portrays overweight people as ugly and unattractive while thin people are considered attractive and gorgeous. The message that thinner is better is everywhere, and researchers have shown that exposure to this can lower their self-esteem, which can lead to eating disorders. The discrimination or stereotyping based on a person’s weight is damaging and pervasive in our society. Reports have shown that in Fiji, after three years of exposure to Western television, women previously comfortable with their bodies and eating choices, developed serious problems. 74 percent of them felt “too fat;” 69 percent dieted to lose weight, 11 percent tried self-induced vomiting and 29 percent were at risk for clinical eating disorders. Equally, peer pressure in the form of bullying and teasing also increases the risk of eating disorders. When questioned, 60 percent of those affected by eating disorders said that bullying contributed to the development of their eating disorder. Those who are bullied for being overweight will feel ostracized and isolated from their fellow schoolmates. Many with eating disorders have also stated that they have few friends, social activities, and social support. So, there is strong evidence that socio-cultural influences play a role in the development of eating disorders among teenagers.

Next, psychological issues can also contribute to eating disorders among teenagers. Psychological issues here mean the constant obsession and concern of teenagers with their weight and eating patterns that negatively impact their physical and mental health. Research into eating disorders, specifically anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa has recognized multiple personality traits that may be present during an eating disorder. For example, perfectionism and body image dissatisfaction. Let us take a look at each one of them. Perfectionism or to be precise, self-oriented perfectionism involves setting unrealistic high standards of themselves. In other words, to scrutinize and drag their self-esteem down to meet their personal expectations. This was clearly obvious in the research conducted by Amanda Brown and her colleagues at Emory University, USA. They found that following strict food rules was significantly related to self-oriented perfectionism among the participants, ages 18 to 35. High levels of self-oriented perfectionism may lead to rigid food rules which can further increase the symptoms of disordered eating. On the other hand, body image dissatisfaction is defined as the way one perceives their physical appearance. Sadly, it is very common among teenagers to feel ashamed and unsatisfied with their own bodies. Hence, they fall into depression and eating disorders. Therefore, focusing too much on one’s weight and body size leads to dangerous eating behaviors.

Overall, it is crystal clear that socio-cultural impacts, genetic vulnerability, and psychological matters are the roots of eating disorders among teenagers. Therefore, appropriate treatment to assist teenagers on the road to recovery is crucial. This includes medication and therapy. Although medication can’t necessarily treat eating disorders, they work best to cure physical health problem related to the illness. As for therapy, it involves meeting a psychologist from time to time. However, it is proven that family therapy out of all works best in this case. This is because a concerned parent would do anything to help their children from misery. Likewise, parents should address the issue faced by their children and try their level best to solve it. Instead of rebuking, which inflicts more pain in them, speaking in the right tone and manner works best. Above all, our focus should also be on educating the public on the implications of eating disorders. Many still do not realize the seriousness of this issue as ignorance has already clouded their judgment. It shouldn’t be taken lightly! The public and the government must work hand-in-hand to curb this matter from getting out of hand. As for the teenagers out there, love and accept yourself for who you are. Only you know your true worth. You do you, you be you.

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Essay Paper on Eating Disorders and Genetics. (2023, December 13). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 24, 2024, from
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