Common Causes of Eating Disorders in Adults


Eating disorders are characterized by dangerous eating behaviors which may be accompanied by a preoccupation with food, weight, or body size. There are several types of disorders, but some that are more well-known include:

  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Binge eating and purging

Eating disorders can have a severe impact on one’s health. If left untreated, it can lead to death. If diagnosed by a health professional, it is important to receive treatment as soon as possible.

There are many possible causes of eating disorders which stem from environmental, psychological, and biological factors. It’s important to remember that more than one factor may lead to one developing an eating disorder. Here are some signs to look out for.

Environmental Factors

Even if an eating disorder manifests during adulthood, the cause may be rooted in one’s childhood or adolescence. Physical or sexual abuse, dysfunctional family dynamics, or severe trauma could lead to an eating disorder later in life.

Another potential cause of an eating disorder is a life change, disruption, or transition. This may include events such as a loss of job or financial hardship.

If one participates in a sport which emphasizes a lean body, this pressure may lead to a disorder as well. Activities where eating disorders are common include long-distance running, gymnastics, wrestling, ballet, and more.

This concept applies to one’s professional life as well. Professions such as modeling or acting place a lot pressure on maintaining a certain weight or body image.

It’s important to remember that eating disorders do not discriminate by gender. If certain factors are present, men and women are both at risk.

Psychological Factors

In many cases, mental illness (such as OCD, depression, or anxiety) can be a contributing factor. Poor self-esteem and negative body are also frequently present in people with eating disorders.

It’s important to remember that eating disorders are rarely caused by a single factor. This applies to psychological factors as well.

Before jumping into treatment, it’s important to meet with a licensed therapist to discern any and all psychological factors. This may result in a more accurate diagnosis which will help make treatment more effective.

Biological Factors

There are a number of biological factors that may contribute to an eating disorder. These factors include irregular hormone functions or an imbalance of chemicals in the brain.

While clinical trials are ongoing, there is research to suggest a link between genetics and eating disorders. If a family member has suffered from anorexia, bulimia, or another disorder, there is a chance you may be at risk.

It’s important to remember that these studies do not predetermine one’s fate. Regardless of family history, it’s important to maintain a healthy diet and relationship with his or her body.

Regardless of age, gender, or family history, eating disorders can affect anyone. If you or someone you love are suffering from an eating disorder, High Focus Centers is here to help.

Eating disorder treatment options are available at our Parsippany location. See how we can help you recover your relationship with your body. Our team uses evidence-based treatment techniques to guide you on the path to long-term wellness.