Are Eating Disorders Genetic or Hereditary?

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Many people wonder what causes a person to develop an eating disorder in the first place. Is it something obvious in a person’s life or are eating disorders genetic? The answer is complicated but can help shed light on how best to approach treatment for struggling with anorexia, binge eating disorder, bulimia, and other eating disorders. Regardless of the reason someone becomes sick with an eating disorder, Trellis Recovery Centers can provide them with highly effective treatment.

Are Eating Disorders Genetic? 

Genetic eating disordersEating disorders can develop for different reasons. Additionally, not everyone can point to the same influencing factors when they become ill. A person’s environment can contribute heavily to them having an eating disorder. However, other causal factors exist. Research shows that between 40 and 60 percent of what makes a person vulnerable to developing eating disorders is genetic in nature. Knowing a person’s family history when it comes to mental health disorders, including eating disorders, can help them understand their illness and its origins.

What are the Genetic Influences that Cause Eating Disorders? 

Abnormalities in genes that regulate cholesterol production, fasting insulin, and fasting glucose can influence the development of anorexia. In addition, people with a genetic predisposition to develop a substance use disorder also have an increased risk of becoming bulimic. 

All eating disorders can share a genetic component when it comes to other factors. For one, having a mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety elevates a person’s chances of having an eating disorder. As well, many people have a genetic predisposition either to stay slender or to gain weight. If they also carry genes related to developing an eating disorder, they can dovetail with the weight-related ones. In turn, this can influence whether they lean towards restricting food or binge eating it. 

Which Eating Disorders are Most Likely to be Genetic?

Now that we know eating disorders can be genetic, lets look at the most common types independently. Anorexia has been studied more extensively by geneticists than any other eating disorder. Findings suggest that people who have anorexia often have a set of genetic abnormalities. In fact, a person who has a family history of anorexia is 11 times more likely to develop it when compared to those who do not have a family history of this eating disorder. 

The majority of studies done on eating disorders and genetics pertain to anorexia. However, some studies do show a link between genetics and other eating disorders. Binge eating disorder, which is the most common eating disorder in the country, does have a genetic component for many. Researchers identified a gene and a network of downregulated genes related to binge eating. 

Someone who has an identical twin with anorexia or bulimia is more likely to also develop the same eating disorder than if they have a fraternal twin or other close relative with one of those eating disorders. This is because of the genetic influences on three neurotransmitters, including dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.

What Are Other Causes of Eating Disorders? 

It can be argued that many cases of eating disorders are a combination of both genetics and environmental causes. This means nature and nurture both contribute to the development of these potentially deadly diseases. Someone raised in an unhealthy environment may end up having an eating disorder. This includes childhoods with abuse or neglect. As well, adults who have suffered trauma and not gotten treatment for it may turn to eating disorders. In fact, anyone who hasn’t learned healthy coping skills to deal with life may turn to things like eating disorders or substance abuse to soothe their symptoms or feel some sense of control

Another thing that can cause a person to focus on food, weight, and body image in an unhealthy way is the media. This includes advertising, the entertainment world, and social media. All of these things feature unrealistic portrayals of how people look. Particularly in relation to women remaining as thin as possible. The use of filters and Photoshop creates a standard impossible for anyone to achieve and ends up making millions of people feel unattractive. For some, this means using unhealthy maladaptive measures to try to feel better about themselves.

How to Break the Genetic Chain of Disordered Eating 

While a person cannot change their genetic coding, they can take steps to break a familial cycle of eating disorders. For example, an adult who seeks treatment and recovers from their eating disorder will know how to model mentally healthy behavior to their children. In the event their child does develop an eating disorder, the parent will be more likely to recognize it and get help for them quickly.

Contact Our Disordered Eating Treatment Center in Los Angeles, CA, at Trellis Recovery Centers

Whether or not eating disorders are genetic in nature for a person, the need for treatment is still the same. Trellis Recovery Centers created a multi-disciplinary program to treat men and women who need focused care from experts. Our residential facility features modern furnishings and a homelike feeling. We provide an atmosphere that promotes a person’s ability to take charge of their lives again and begin to heal. Our therapists work tirelessly to help each person become more comfortable in their relationships with their bodies and food. We provide a variety of types of therapy that support a person’s ability to recover from an eating disorder.

Contact us now to find out how to start walking on the road to recovery. Our admissions staff can answer any questions you have.