Major Risk Factors for the Development of Anorexia Nervosa

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Anorexia Nervosa is an aggressive eating disorder inflicting people indiscriminately around the globe. It occurs primarily among females with onset generally occurring in early to late adolescence, often resulting in death. Anorexia nervosa is characterised by an individuals refusal to maintain a healthy weight, intense fear of weight gain and a distorted body image. The major risk factors contributing to the development of anorexia are Genetics, Psychological Traits, Cultural and Media Ideals and an unhealthy family environment.

Fifty six percent of people who suffer from anorexia have a genetic predisposition to the disease (Candy, 2003). People who have an immediate family member with Anorexia are 12 times more likely to develop
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This is due to men and women in westernised countries being exposed to unrealistic cultural demands. Western society places great importance on success in all areas of life, including slimness. People equate this success to their self worth, thinking that if they were thin, they would be happier, or a better person. This is shown in the media 's representation of cultural ideals. Exposure to western media ideals is a major risk factor for developing anorexia nervosa, or any eating disorder. The media is constantly bombarding us with images of happy, successful people. These people are usually portrayed by young, attractive, thin (often underweight) models and actors. While less successful people are played by actors who are unattractive, and often overweight. In a study by Health magazine (April 2002), 32 percent of female TV actors were underweight, compared to the 3 percent who are overweight. In another study conducted in 2002 of twins born between 1935 and 1958, the prevalence of anorexia nervosa was greater among those born after 1945. This is due to more exposure to media and changing cultural ideals. In the 1950 's, Marilyn Monroe, a size 14 was the ideal body shape. Twenty years ago, the average model weighed 8 percent less than the average women. In 2003, models weighed 23 percent less than the general population.

Research conducted in 1999 on the island of Fiji clearly shows how
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