Why are Eating Disorders More Common in Females?
Have you or your friends struggled with disordered eating. Learn the answer to the question, “Why are eating disorders more common in females?”
Between 0.3 and 0.4% of young women suffer from anorexia nervosa. However, for men, this figure drops to 0.1%.
Eating disorders are very serious. In fact, anorexia in women has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. This is largely due to how difficult it is to treat.
What Is an Eating Disorder?
Eating disorders in women are mental illnesses. The illness causes disturbances to a person’s eating habits.
An eating disorder can result in drastic weight gain or loss. Also, a sufferer will be obsessed with food, dieting, and exercise.
Common eating disorders include; binge eating disorder, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
No one knows exactly what causes eating disorders. However, there are many theories as to why they develop.
Why Are Eating Disorders More Common in Women?
Female eating disorders usually develop in girls and women during teenage and young adult years for these reasons:
- Women’s Bodies Are “Public Property”
British psychoanalyst, Susie Orbach, argues in her book Hunger Strike that women’s bodies are considered public property.
As a result of women’s (and young girl’s) bodies being hypersexualized, a desire to diminish them and take back control of their appearance can occur.
It can then be argued that eating disorders are a feminist issue and perhaps the result of our cultural perception of gender.
Unfortunately, reducing calories to look pretty can occasionally become an obsession which can lead to death.
- Self-Esteem Is Lower Amongst Young Women
There are hundreds of studies proving that women suffer from lower self-esteem than men. Cornell University did a study which found that women underestimate their performance and abilities while men overestimate theirs.
Luckily, self-esteem in women improves with age. But, it’s during a woman’s formative years that they are likely to suffer from an eating disorder.
This is because, yet again, to overcome low self-esteem, women turn to grooming and controlling their appearance through diet. In some cases, this control can lead to an eating disorder.
- Genetics Play a Role in Eating Disorders
Although it is not yet possible to know whether a woman will develop an eating disorder based on her genetics, certain traits can help predict the likelihood.
For example, if a woman is a perfectionist, an obsessive thinker, sensitive to reward and emotionally unstable, they may be more likely to be at risk of developing an eating disorder.
Furthermore, if there is a history of eating disorders in a family, then a young woman is more likely to develop one. But this is not a steadfast rule, merely a trend amongst sufferers which has been noticed.
Other Arguments for Eating Disorders in Young Females
Aside from these points mentioned, other aspects can come into play such as:
- Personality traits
- Psychological issues such as anxiety and depression
- Child abuse
- Childhood obesity
- Peer pressure
As you can see, this list goes on. Unfortunately, little is known about why women tend to dislike their bodies to the point of an eating disorder. Instead, sufferers can only focus on recovery.
Treatments Available for Women
Psychological therapy and medications are often used as treatments for eating disorders.
However, these methods don’t always work. Occasionally, less obvious forms of treatment are more useful in the long run.
For example, music therapy and a nutrition plan. Or even more obscure methods such as immersive Virtual Reality for Eating Disorders.
Recovering from an eating disorder is a lifelong battle. It requires kindness, patience, and a strong support network.
Why Are Eating Disorders More Common in Females? There Are Many Factors
When asking the question why are eating disorders more common in females, we may never have just one simple answer.
However, perhaps more important is the question “how to cure eating disorders?”
Are you struggling with an eating disorder? Checking yourself into a clinic is one of the best things you can do. Find out what to look for in the right eating disorder recovery clinic in this article.