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 the disorder themselves than those with no family history of the disease. This is due to a hereditary gene which is linked to abnormalities with the neurotransmitter chemical, Serotonin (Source, 2003). This chemical is an active participant in the control of sleep, memory, learning, mood, body temperature, muscle contraction, cardiovascular and appetite. People who suffer from abnormalities relating to this neurotransmitter have an increased chance of developing high levels of serotonin. High levels of serotonin can lead to sufferers developing a decreased appetite, high levels of anxiety and depression.

A study conducted on worms showed that starving a worm of serotonin increased the worms appetite while high levels of serotonin in the worms decreased the worms appetite. This research supports the theory of anorexia sufferers high levels of serotonin leading to decreased appetite. It has also been found that the consumption of food causes the body to synthesis serotonin, conditioning the anorexic to avoid food and reduce their anxiety levels. Many anorexics say food deprivation makes them feel calm and in control. This claim of abnormal serotonin levels contributing to anorexia is further supported by the fact that 50...
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