Anorexia is a disease that is affecting not just teens and adults, but also children. More and more children are worried about their body image, and instead of enjoying youth they are taking drastic measures to meet some warped sense of what their body should be like. While it’s not known specifically what causes some people to develop anorexia, it, like other diseases, is likely a combination of biological, psychological and sociocultural factors. Let’s look at some of these so that you can help protect your kids from developing this life changing disease.
While some people think that this sort of problem is merely a psychological choice, some people may be genetically vulnerable to developing anorexia. While there is still little research in this area, it is shown statistically that young women with a biological relative with an eating disorder are at higher risk for developing one themselves, which may indicate a genetic link. However, the specific tie is not yet clear. Some experts believe it is more of a genetic tendency towards sensitivity, or perfectionism, or something similar that leads to eating disorders, rather than a link to self-starvation, etc. In addition to genetic factors, there is some evidence that suggests that if you suffer from depression related to the amount of serotonin in your brain, you may be at higher risk for developing anorexia.
The truth is, while the biological factors that lead to anorexia are not entirely clear, there is evidence to suggest that diseases like anorexia are not always a psychological or sociocultural phenomenon, but could be part of the body’s wiring.
It has been shown time and again that people with anorexia often have psychological and emotional characteristics that contributed to their development of the disease. For example, women who have experienced a psychologically traumatic event in their life (such as rape) might use anorexia as a form of regaining some control. People with low self-worth, for instance, may turn to self starvation in order to feel better about themselves. There are all sorts of psychological factors that can contribute to this problem. For example, being highly compulsive, or obsessive-compulsive in personality might make you more prone to falling in the anorexia trap because you can stick with it even when you want to eat because your obsessive side is telling you that you will never be thin enough. It is important to recognize that psychological trauma, low self esteem, and other personality traits can lead to, or increase the risk of anorexia in kids.
It is pure and simple, the culture we live in today often cultivates and reinforces a desire for thinness. Thin is in, it is considered beautiful, and the media and mindset of people reinforce it over and over until pretty soon it is hard for a child to look in the mirror and think of themselves as attractive because they have baby fat and you can’t see their bones through their skin as you can with many actors, actresses, and models. Success and worth are often equated with being thin. Combine this with peer pressure, and the attitudes and comments made by parents and other adults, and it is not difficult to understand how problems like anorexia, which once rarely affected children, are now prevalent in kids and teens.
As a parent, now that you know what factors cause anorexia in kids, you can be on the lookout for warning signs in your children. If you have a child with anorexia, you will want to watch for it more closely in your other children. If your child watches a lot of television, you will want to make sure they do not have a warped body image. If your child has low self worth, or experienced something traumatic, you want to be careful about what say and do in order to help them avoid problems such as anorexia.