What are the causes of Anorexia?

There is always a complex number of causes behind anorexia or associated eating disorder and every individual will experience a unique set of difficulties. They can include some or all of the following:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Childhood trauma and abuse
  • Family difficulties
  • Stressful life events
  • Personality factors
  • Low self esteem

Dieting is also a risk factor but most dieters do not develop an eating disorder, so other factors must be involved. There is continuing debate about the role of socio-cultural factors such as media pressure to conform to an unrealistic body shape.

Anorexia in children

It is very important to identify anorexia in children and begin treatment at an early stage. In children, significant nutritional compromise can occur without weight loss and a static weight can indicate significant under-nutrition at a time of growth. BMI norms differ according to age and BMI centile chats should therefore be used to assess weight in those under sixteen. Children may decompensate physically more rapidly than adults and become dehydrated more easily. Urgent action is required if the child’s physical health is significantly compromised.

Longer term medical complications include growth retardation, pubertal arrest and reduction in peak bone mass. Physical causes of weight loss should always be excluded in children and referral to a paediatrician may be indicated. Newbridge House specialises in the treatment of children and young people, admitting patients aged between eight and 18.