Eating Disorder Essay - Essay Prowess

Eating Disorder Essay


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Occurrence of Eating Disorder

Genetic and Environmental Occurrence of Eating Disorder

As human beings, we cannot escape the urge to eat. However, there is a major concern about eating too much or little when it comes to consuming food. In addition to the amount of food to be consumed, mainstream media develops different perspectives on the nature and physique of appearance. Murray, Griffiths & Mond (2016) highlights the extents of eating disorders among models. As a career in modeling, the author highlights that society and the industry expect the set women to maintain a specific figure and weight. In the adversity of maintaining shape, different women have been recorded to deny themselves food to attain the perfect shape. Many more women exclaimed that they felt the urge to reduce the food intake to avoid adding weight. Contrary to the established idea that women are watching their weight Mazzeo & Bulik (2019) studies the difference in weights and eating patterns among the African-Americans, whites, and Latinos. It is identified that among the whites having a huge body and more weight was considered a health concern. To the Latinos and African-Americans, having more weight and appearing huge was considered a sign of wealth. Therefore, in regards to eating and maintaining a physical appearance, eating is contradicted among different groups of people across the world.

An eating disorder is identified as a disturbance to an individual’s eating behaviors. A difference in individual behavior has been discussed by Mayhew, Pigeyre & Couturier (2018) and suggested to increase or reduce eating. The concept of eating disorders in society affects men, women, and children alike. However, the effects of eating disorders have been discussed by Murray, Nagata & Griffiths (2017) and pointed out to be caused by different factors such as the genetic composition of an individual and the environment of an individual. Ideally, eating disorders are known to be caused by stress, psychological or sociological pressures. Additionally, disturbance of personal eating habits is caused by several factors within the diet. Murray et al., (2017) mentions that regarding food and diet, two different types of eating disorders are persistent. These are bulimia and anorexia Nervosa.  An excessive eating term characterizes bulimia as binge eating followed by episodes of trying to avoid excessive weight. Generally, Bulimia Nervosa is caused by stress where an individual finds comfort in eating without solving their immediate stress causes. Anorexia nervosa is characterized by an abnormally low weight, intense fear of gaining weight, and a limited perception about gaining weight. The two terms are generally intertwined whereas a person engages in binge eating, they are met with a growing fear of their weight. As a result, they attain a level of intense anxiety leading to self-destructive behavior such as purging.

In the present world, people live in an era of image-conscious cultures. Murray et al., (2016) highlights that women are the most affected by conditions of appearances, leading to debates about the perfect image and shape. For instance, magazine advertisements and the fashion industry push an ideology in society, illustrating that one has to buy certain types of clothes, whiten their teeth, eat a specific amount of food, and lose weight. The result of losing weight is matched with getting happy, finding the perfect family, getting admired and loved. Thinness is equally matched with being happy in life. It presents a challenge that is engraved in the foundations of society. These perfect body and structure notions engage people in limiting or checking their diets, exercising, and controlling their body weights. While there is nothing abnormal in eating, some studies identify and correlate eating disorders closely linked to family history. On the other hand, other scholars identify eating disorders as an individual perspective or added by the environment.

Eating Disorders as a Matter of Genetics or the Environment

Genetic factors have been discussed by Wade et al., (2015) and illustrate a significant role in defining eating disorders. Similar studies develop a correlation that the conditions of bulimia and anorexia nervosa have a higher prevalence among relatives of eating disorder proband as opposed to the relatives of control. Eating disorder working a two system has been identified as caused by too much eating or too little eating and controlling personal weight. Research link bulimia disorder to be prevalent among families that the occurrence of anorexia. It is determined that eating disorders can result from many factors that do not play a single role in the occurrence of the condition. For instance, the age, gender, race, and psychological well-being of an individual develops a prevalence of the eating disorder. To this light, this study seeks to identify the degree to which the question of nature versus nurture can determine eating disorders. Is it possible that genetic markers determine the prevalence of eating disorders among a group of people? Alternatively, is it possible that the manner of upbringing determines the level of eating disorders among individuals?

A persistent question asked by clinicians, families, and patients alike remarks on how genetic traits influence eating disorders among individuals. The core concept of genetic occurrence of eating disorders is given through a Mendelian relation of the condition. Similar to the occurrence of other psychological disorders such as attention disorders, research posits that a gene coding for anorexia develops the condition through an individual. Mayhew et al., (2018) have dispelled the myth restating that eating disorder is influenced by different factors such as the environment and the genetic concept. Through their definitions, eating disorders are a complex interrelation of events that leads to the trait occurrence. The findings of Himmerich, Bentley & Kan (2019) challenge the genetic dogma of eating disorders, indicating that the condition’s occurrence does not follow the common Mendelian laws of genetic inheritance. Murray et al., (2017) indicates that while it is possible to term that eating disorders are carried through the gene, an interplay of other environmental factors has to be present for the condition to occur. In clinical terms, while different individuals hold and produce the protein known to develop bulimia and Anorexia nervosa, environmental factors have to be included in the equation for the condition to be present. In conclusive terms, environmental conditions pull the trigger, eventually developing the condition.

Nutrition and clinic advice continuously point to reducing the amount of food one eats and watching their lifestyles. This does not constitute an eating disorder Mayhew et al., (2018) explains the origins of eating disorder within an individual. As a psychological condition, the author reinstates that eating disorder is affected by how individuals perceive their weight and lifestyle. The article guides that a precondition gives the prevalence of eating disorders through society. It is the idea that people suffering from the condition tend to pick and reflect on the ideas from society. For instance, it has been identified among teenagers that the children tend to follow eating patterns from their role model. It is the basic idea that individuals would love to attain ‘perfect’ weights and shape according to societal standards. Other studies by Mazzeo & Bulik (2019) explain that parental upbringing affects the mental and neural response of an individual. The neural transmission of consciousness has been known to affect the degree to which individuals evaluate themselves. Accordingly, eating disorders are caused by an individualized conception of their world and environment.

Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection develops the center and belief of the nature vs. nurture theory of eating disorder. Natural selection elucidates the idea that individuals’ experiences are preconditioned by their genetic makeup and realized through their environment. As such, the occurrence of the condition is given as both a genetic and environmental condition. Himmerich et al., (2019) develops the ideology of eating disorders by focusing on siblings raised from the same family. Respective of the family, siblings portray a significant difference in the portrayal of eating disorders. It is determined that individuals with the genetic mark up for eating disorders will develop a higher consciousness of their health. These studies further the research by Wade et al., (2015) illustrating that while genetics is important in determining eating disorders, the true sense of family relations is built on upbringing. Parental care, love, and upbringing affect the manner through which individuals relate to their environment. A child raised in an environment of love will present higher neural activity with social acceptance than their counterparts. Conclusively, the question on the degree of nature and nurture effects on eating disorders are explained by the foundation through which an individual relates to their environment.

Nature versus Nurture Debate on Eating Disorder

Nature and nurture debates on eating disorders relate to the study’s theme by developing a two-sided idea providing the foundation that behavior is developed from the environment. In the development phase of an individual, a child has been noticed to evaluate and copy the behaviors in their environment. This is explained on the nurture element of an eating disorder; individual develops a different perception about their health, physique and eating habits from friends, media and role models. In respect to certain careers such as air hostess, secretaries, and modeling, different members of society are judged based on their appearance. As such, individuals become self-conscious of their weight, shape, and eating habits. Additionally, the modern culture centered on appearance also affects the perception of individuals concerning their health statuses.  According to Mayhew et al., (2018), an important aspect of society contributing to an eating disorder is the societal reward. It gives the impression that having the desired body figure and weight is highly rewarded, celebrated, and encouraged in society. As such, individuals are cautious of their eating habits to help them fit in the cultural perspective of society.

To answer the question of the study, genetics play and contribute to the eating disorder experienced by individuals. Murray et al., (2016) affirms that while eating disorders are presented in different forms, family history determines the type of disorder experienced by an individual. Heritability of eating disorders is actively given by 28 to 74 percent for anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa. These relations and statistics instigate an individual risk to developing the condition. However, the nature of the presentation of the condition is based on the genetic and environmental interaction of the individual (Wade et al., 2015). The family develops the nature through which an individual is affected by an eating disorder; however, the environment determines how an eating disorder will be presented. 


Himmerich, H., Bentley, J., Kan, C., & Treasure, J. (2019). Genetic risk factors for eating disorders: an update and insights into pathophysiology. Therapeutic advances in psychopharmacology9, 2045125318814734.

Mayhew, A. J., Pigeyre, M., Couturier, J., & Meyre, D. (2018). An evolutionary genetic perspective of eating disorders. Neuroendocrinology106(3), 292-306.

Mazzeo, S. E., & Bulik, C. M. (2019). Environmental and genetic risk factors for eating disorders: what the clinician needs to know. Child and adolescent psychiatric clinics of North America18(1), 67-82.

Murray, S. B., Griffiths, S., & Mond, J. M. (2016). Evolving eating disorder psychopathology: Conceptualising muscularity-oriented disordered eating. The British Journal of Psychiatry208(5), 414-415.

Murray, S. B., Nagata, J. M., Griffiths, S., Calzo, J. P., Brown, T. A., Mitchison, D., … & Mond, J. M. (2017). The enigma of male eating disorders: A critical review and synthesis. Clinical psychology review57, 1-11.

Wade, T. D., Fairweather‐Schmidt, A. K., Zhu, G., & Martin, N. G. (2015). Does shared genetic risk contribute to the co‐occurrence of eating disorders and suicidality? International Journal of Eating Disorders48(6), 684-691.

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