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Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Psychosocial Factors


Anorexia nervosa is a medical condition that has affected many individuals in the society especially the female gender. Some initiatives have been made to counter effect this condition but still, it is being practiced by the society members. This has been through research findings and medical workshops to enlighten the community about anorexia nervosa. There is a need to identify psychosocial factors associated with anorexia nervosa.

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder primarily affecting women in their young age in the teenage and early age in twenties which has characteristics majorly fearing to add weight. This leads to poor patterns of eating, malnutrition, and weight loss that is excessive (Misra, 2015). It is usually caused by social and psychological factors. Psychological variables involve attributes including depression, hopelessness, and hostility, perceptions of physical body looks, expectations, self-esteem, and judging of self- bodily looks. On the other hand, social factors entail the structures that are natural. They include the environment in which one works or spends time and interaction with those people around an individual. These interactions can be amongst family members or friends. An individual’s expectations and specific cultural variations are also inclusive in the social factors.

Role of psychological factors

A predisposition to anorexia through genetics that inclines an individual to have increased levels of cholesterol stresses an individual. Weight gain makes an individual feel uncomfortable due to the challenges like having an exceptional in dressing, feeding, and the general community perception on overweight and obese individuals (Calugi, 2017). The stigma experienced leads an individual losing weight. Adoption of body thinning mechanisms like the change of diet and other lifestyles adds up to anorexia. This particular person ends up being affected by anorexia nervosa.

Imbalances of chemicals in the body affect the perception and mindset of an individual. One feels and believes to be overweight or obese even if they are skinny or thin bodied. A lack of medical consultations disposes this individual to anorexia since she wants to fight the feeling of being overweight. The use of body slimming mechanisms to enable weight loss that actually may not be present is adopted. Anorexia nervosa affects this person due to the strong feeling of having a slender body which needs to be attained through whichever means.

Emotions influence the type of food to be taken. Females who need to cut on weight in order to fit in the society are dictated by their overweight emotions on what to eat. Novel foods become the best choice for the individuals who appear in the images of advertisements or journals are their role models. Whichever kind of food the models take is adopted by these female individuals. Finally, they end up experiencing anorexia nervosa.

Attitudes have proved to change and individual’s eating habits. Preference of certain foods that will meet the desire of losing weight is given priority. The main components of an attitude include the cognitive part, the affective, and the conative parts (Misra, 2015). All these components influence the attitude of a female individual in choosing the type of food to be consumed. The effects of consuming such a food positively encourage the woman if she does not add weight. The motive can also direct a female to eat the food that enables her to lose weight and maintain being thin (Calugi, 2017). This will be in connection with several affiliated groups that advocate for weight loss and maintaining of thin bodies. Emotions, attitudes, and motives psychologically influence the choice of food to eat.

The Role of Social Factors

A person’s likelihood to develop anorexia nervosa is increased by predisposing factors that are socially influenced compared to those psychologically influenced. Through studies, anorexics have been found to be heavier significantly when born (Calugi, 2017). They experience the development of secondary characteristics of sex very fast and receive their menstrual periods early compared to their counterparts who are non- anorexics. The puberty places may develop prematurely hence piling pressure continually on a child or an individual in the early teenage life. What follows is self-adjustment that brings a desire of resisting both psychological and sexual maturity.

In addition, the family life as a social factor is a factor that predisposes an individual to anorexia development. If a child is directly involved or experiences conflicts of parents, it forms a basis for the development and future maintenance of anorexia during the teenage period and the early twenties age bracket. Several factors could have caused this conflict ranging from the physical outlooks of the parents to the general perceptions of the society on how people should look or conduct themselves. The focus involved within the symptoms of the child facilitates avoidance of family conflicts. This enhances the anorexia development likelihood since there is maintenance of a harmony façade. The child is able to make herself happy and get satisfied with her body image and shape.

The general expectations and the subsequent pressure from the society for women to be thin is another social factor contributing to anorexia nervosa. From a range of twenty years ago, there is an increasing trend of the female bodies becoming slender and thinner whereas the women’s average weight is increasingly rising (Calugi, 2017). It has been observed that within this period of time there has been a parallel increase in these two trends giving rise to an environment in which the women feel discomfort with their own bodies. There comes in a state of confusion and ambiguity for the female identity. Many of the women in the society tend to copy and mimic the lifestyles of major female celebrities who have slender bodies. A majority of those doing this are overweight or big-bodied women. They indulge in procedures leading to weight loss and maintenance of a thin body (PU & Todd, 2016). The end result is a self-fight and lowering of the esteem of that specific individual. Anorexia continues to affect these women as long as they will continue appreciating the bodily attributes of other women.

The dress code plays a major role in initiating and advancing anorexia nervosa. Most of the cultural messages depend on the current trending lifestyles (Misra, 2015). The society has come to embrace what is perceived as acceptable by everybody irrespective of the consequences. Therefore most societies have abandoned their way of dressing to assimilate those of others which are accepted by many. This makes the female to have a body shape that fits into a specific dressing style. Most of the pacesetters are models and high-end celebrity women. Models do have a size two bodies, a size four is the body of an actress averagely, and these two are contrary to the body size of an average woman which is size twelve (Gadsby, 20170). For a female to fit into this trend, she has to reduce in body shape and size. This will involve the change of eating habits and diet but eventually, it gets out of control when more perfection is needed.

Families with a dysfunctional lifestyle predispose a female to anorexia. This is as a result of wanting to control their lives since the life of the family cannot be controlled by them. They start following the trends of their friends and the society at large since they make the final decision on their own. Lacking another person to influence their decisions predisposes them to anorexia since the majority of their new decisions are controversial. This leads to change in diet, avoiding of eating meals and the dress code. A feeling of lacking control over personal lives such as relationships, school, and social life develops out of a family life that is dysfunctional. A continuous worsening life is experienced by this person up to the level of having a family reunion that will give her a sense of belonging. It is always perceived that the social support of a family makes one have a comfortable relationship with other people.

Lack of appraisal by the parents lowers the self-esteem of a child. This forces the child to seek for self-motivation through eating hence predisposing herself to anorexia. Parents who practice poor eating habits induce their children to follow the same. Adaptation of poor eating habits enables the children to start practicing anorexia (PU & Todd, 2016). Illnesses affecting a parent that take long exposes the child to other family responsibilities. Depression comes in and dictates the child to follow the norms of the society to be accepted. This mostly is through attaining and maintaining a thin body that is acquired by changing eating habits (Gadsby, 20170). Direct advice from either the mother or the father affects the female child. If the dad prefers thin bodied women, the child will live knowing the best body shape is being thin. The mother may also encourage the child to embrace a slim body shape. An end result is anorexia nervosa.

Interpersonal factors contribute to anorexia. Apart from dysfunctional families, other interpersonal factors lead to anorexia and they include; a past history of experiencing sexual or physical abuse or strained personal relationships and having the difficulty in displaying and expressing own feelings and emotions to others (PU & Todd, 2016). To start with, relationships play a key role in influencing the lifestyle of the involved individuals. Siblings can influence on how one eats. Twins would like to have a specific appearance to make them distinct from the rest of the individuals. This can be achieved through a change in eat less meals or avoiding some meals. A continuous fight amongst siblings due to heavy weight and body images pushes one to have a slender body to be accepted by other siblings.

Moreover, the death of a fellow sibling leaves one stressed and falling into poor eating habits. Lastly, abuse from other siblings forces an individual to find a way of accepting oneself through. This is achieved through pushing others away by attaining a new look which is attained by the change of eating habits. In the places of work, the pressure to be successful pushes a woman to have stress hence loosing of weight due to poor eating habits. Sexual harassment at the place of work makes the involved female victims feel worthless affecting their diet lifestyles at the end (PU & Todd, 2016). Some jobs require women to attain a certain body shape and weight. They may be acting and performing jobs, or those requiring attraction that is perceived by the society to be of slim bodies. In the end, the body image is affected. Examples of these jobs include; martial arts which require female artists to be light, professional dancing, and waiters in various restaurants.

Gossip from fellow workmates about the weight of an individual calls for the change of body shape and size to be accepted by these people. As a result, anorexia affects this individual through the change of eating habits to attain the body shape. Size discrimination through the boss informing the female employees to have a watch on their weight discourages the employees (Misra, 2015). Overweight employees will have a feeling of inadequacy and the challenge of not being promoted because of weight issues. These workers have to lose weight in order to be valued by their bosses; this can be achieved through a change of eating habits. Upon reducing weight, one has the belief that she will be accepted by the workmates and the manager. Receiving of promotions can be smooth as overweight was perceived to be improper according to the perceptions of the manager.

Love relationships currently require teens to please others through attaining of thin bodies and losing weight. Harassment in a relation can bring weight and body image obsession issues (PU & Todd, 2016). This forces the female partner to accord to that by becoming thin and losing weight due to depression too. Cheating leaves the female partner depressed and in dire need to be like the other ladies in order to maintain her partner. Therefore she has to change her body image through altered eating habits. Divorce leaves an individual stressed and feeling unaccepted. Indulging into attaining a new body shape in order to be accepted by a new partner comes into picture. She struggles to attain this through attaining new eating habits to have a thin body and shape.

Alcoholism experienced in a relationship brings unhappiness. A woman feels not making her partner happy hence losing control over herself hence poor eating habits. She gets affected by anorexia as a result of feeling helpless in stopping her partner from abusing alcohol. When a woman gives birth to a child, mostly she had added weight while carrying the pregnancy. The husband or the involved boyfriend will keep on talking about the added weight (Gadsby, 20170). In addition to this are the attributes needed to be a responsible mother and the increased focus to take good care of the baby. Stress comes in and she loses control of herself hence being affected by anorexia.

Peer relationships influence the eating habits of a child or teenager since the major focus is on individuality and not being accepted by fellow peers (PU & Todd, 2016). Pressured increases for self-achievement hence acquiring of anorexia nervosa. A teenager with issues concerning weight gain gets all time ridicule from friends. She gets depression and body image issues that lead to anorexia in order to be fully accepted by others. Children who are unable to make friends because they are shy experience the feeling of loneliness. The only encouragement they have is through eating food to fill the feeling of being void. Weight loss can be an alternative to being accepted in their peer environment.

Challenges during adolescence and puberty whereby some ladies mature early than their counterparts encourage ridicule. Harassment from boys in the society displays shame forcing these ladies to hide (Misra, 2015). Their only solutions become a change in eating habits to change their body image and shape. In the sports industry, coaches and fellow players can force a lady to have a certain body shape to be able to fit into the particular game or sport. This resolves to bad eating habits hence anorexia. A group of teenager or children can start a diet program due to pressure from others. Comparisons on each other on how ate less or went for long without food predisposes them to anorexia.

In conclusion, anorexia nervosa is an eating condition affecting women in their young age. It entails the fear of adding weight. Causes range from psychological to social factors which equally affect an individual who finally ends up getting anorexia. Psychological factors include; discomfort through genetically abnormal weight gain, mind perception due to body chemical imbalances, emotions, attitudes, and motives. Social factors involve; ridicule of females due to early maturity, general expectations, family conflicts and dysfunction, dress code, poor parenting, relationships to the family and friends, working and living environments. Anorexia nervosa badly affects the body image and shape of an individual (Gadsby, 20170).

 Reflection of Anorexia Nervosa

There should be criteria for diagnosing anorexia nervosa. This is because the condition is easily acquired and an individual gets easily influenced to practice it. DSM- 5 can be used to diagnose anorexia nervosa. In line with the DSM-5 criteria, an individual should display the following in order to confirm the anorexia nervosa diagnosis. The first one is an energy intake restriction that is persistent leading to acquiring a low body weight. This should be achieved in comparison with the minimal expectations or sex, age, physical health, and developmental trajectory. Reporting of fear to gain weight or become fat (Kakhim, 2016). Problems with an individual’s body image. The body shape or weight of an individual is experienced through disturbance. Unnecessary body weight and shape influence upon self-evaluation. If these characteristics are displayed by an individual, a sure confirmation is made upon being reviewed by medical personnel.

Information has been read concerning anorexia nervosa. The definition and different causes of anorexia nervosa had been made available for reading. Psychosocial factors affect the perception of thinking towards achieving a thin body and low weight. Genetically modified body mechanisms together with chemical imbalances in the body directly affect the brain and how it perceives things concerning body weight and shape (Gadsby, 20170). Social factors majorly talked about the relationship of an individual to the; parents, siblings, age mates, and the society at large. The work environment also dictates the body shape and weight of an individual through talks made by fellow workmates and the managers.

There is only one research challenge that was encountered. All the research materials used entirely talked about the female gender concerning anorexia nervosa. The male gender was not widely talked about. Although it is understood that the female gender is more concerned about their bodies, the men also suffer from unaccepted body images. Bad eating habits are also being experienced by men. The difference when the male gender is compared with the female gender is that men eat carelessly hence adding weight, unlike the female counterparts who eat to cut weight. These men who have added weight later find it difficult to live in that condition. A desire to cut weight arises due to medical issues or pressure from those around them. Finally, they end up losing weight as required at that time.

The surprise from the study is when an individual feels to be overweight although she is very thin. The reason behind is changes in the normal perception of the brain. About the information learned from this research study, anorexia nervosa is entirely induced or having a strong desire by an individual to be like another person. Parents play the biggest role in fighting against anorexia nervosa. The reason is that they spend more time with the growing children and teenagers. At this point, they have the best opportunity to instill a good sense of preserving the natural body image. This can be avoided if the female gender works on self-understanding and knowing how to make independent decisions. If these are achieved, the continuous acquiring of anorexia nervosa will come to a stop. We can prevent and manage this condition of anorexia nervosa through civic education to the society members.



Calugi, S., El Ghoch, M., & Dalle Grave, R. (2017). Body checking behaviors in anorexia   nervosa. International Journal of Eating Disorders.


Gadsby, S. (2017). Distorted body representations in anorexia nervosa. Consciousness and Cognition, 51, 17-33.


Kakhi, S., & McCann, J. (2016). Anorexia nervosa: diagnosis, risk factors and evidence-based      treatments. Progress in Neurology and Psychiatry, 20(6), 24-29c.


Keski-Rahkonen, A., Raevuori, A., Bulik, C., Hoek, H., Rissanen, A., & Kaprio, J. (2013).     Factors associated with recovery from anorexia nervosa: A population-based study.            International Journal of Eating Disorders, 47(2), 117-123.


Misra, M. (2015). Anorexia nervosa. Bone Abstracts.


PU, J., & Todd, J. (2016). Biological, psychological, and social factors associated with anorexia   nervosa. Advances in Psychological Science, 24(12), 1873.


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