Are Eating Disorders Preventable? What Does Research Tell Us?

Young woman needing Treatment For ARFID

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

Eating disorders are complex diseases that can be difficult to understand and put the pieces together. Having an eating disorder often means also having a multitude of questions that often go unanswered; such as how did the eating disorder develop? What caused the eating disorder to become severe?

How can an eating disorder be hidden in secrecy for so long? Whatever the questions might be, recovering from an eating disorder often includes facing an unknown territory that has never really been explored before.

Wanting Answers and Solutions

With the nature of an eating disorder that brings much shame and destruction, it is natural and normal to want to figure out answers and solutions. How can we prevent such disorders from developing in the first place?

Surely with scientific technology and advancements it seems as though the face of eating disorders have changed. However, even with increased awareness and better understanding about these illnesses, there are certain aspects about eating disorders that simply cannot be stopped or prevented.

The Biological Component of Eating Disorders

medical-563427_1280One aspect about eating disorders that has become quite clear is the strong biological component that exists and cannot be refuted. Having a biological predisposition to these diseases will make a person more susceptible to developing an eating disorder, such as bulimia or anorexia nervosa, particularly in combination with environmental factors.

Biological factors, such as a person’s genetic makeup, neurobiology, and even personality traits and tendencies, are not something that can necessarily be prevented. These are factors that a person is born with and that essentially makes them who they are.

Shifting the Focus to Awareness

Shifting the focus from prevention to awareness may perhaps be a more effective use of time and better way to approach these psychiatric illnesses that may not be something that can be prevented.

Early recognition however, can lead to intervention and treatment sooner, which can help a person recover quicker from an eating disorder and go on to live a productive and fruitful life.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What are your thoughts on prevention efforts for eating disorders? In your opinion, what possible contributing factors to the development of eating disorders are more difficult to accept than others? How can loved ones help support and encourage recovery, even when all the answers about how the eating disorder developed is not known?

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on July 31st, 2015
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About Baxter Ekern

Baxter is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He is responsible for the operations of Eating Disorder Hope and ensuring that the website is functioning smoothly.