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Can Eating Disorders Be Predicted?

A recent study found that there are three primary categories that disordered eating behaviors can either develop from or not develop from, starting in adolescence:

  • Asymptomatic: those who have no symptoms of disordered eating behaviors
  • Dieting Group: those who were actively pursuing weight loss
  • Disordered eating group: those who engaged in disordered eating behaviors symptomatic of diagnosable eating disorders such as binging and purging

Most eating disorders begin to develop at the young, pre-pubescent age and develop into adulthood. The study sought to investigate the patterns of adolescent behaviors and how they transitioned into adulthood. What the researchers found is revealing to the evolution of eating disorders and how early intervention could be essential for long term recovery.

For the asymptomatic group, those who had no symptoms at all, the researchers found that only a little over half (about 60%) stayed asymptomatic and did not develop an eating disorder later on in life. Adolescents who are not preoccupied with dieting or begin to participate in disordered eating behaviors in their critical developmental years are less likely to develop an eating disorder later in life. The remaining 40% might experience trauma, another mental health condition, or other extreme circumstances in life which lead to developing an eating disorder.

75% of those who belonged to one of the disordered eating behaviors groups, either dieting or disordered eating, continued to be in one of those two categories later on in life. Eating disorders have been discovered to thrive in the habit-forming part of the brain. Deeply rooted in in the brain, changing disordered thinking about eating habits, and disordered behaviors for eating habits, is hard to do. When eating disorder habits and thinking develops at an adolescent age, it can be difficult to stop later on in life.

Interestingly, the study found that a critical component in the development of an eating disorder was self-esteem. “Those with higher self-esteem in adolescence tended to have a decreased chance of transitioning from the asymptomatic group to the disordered eating group in adulthood.” In contrast, those who struggled with depression, dysfunctional family systems, family weight issues, or other circumstances, had lower self-esteem in adolescence and were more likely to develop an eating disorder through to adulthood.

Eating disorders are challenging to overcome but it is not possible. Addiction and alcoholism are commonly co-occurring with eating disorders. If you are struggling with both, recovery is possible and help is available. Call Enlightened Solutions today for information on our integrative treatment programs for healing mind, body, and spirit, as you make your journey to recovery. Healing is waiting. 833-801-5483.

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