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INDIAN JOURNAL OF HEALTH STUDIES - Volume 4 Issue 2, July.2022

Pages: 83-96
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Why do People Suffer from Eating Disorders? A Critical Evaluation of the Contemporary Etiological Models of Eating Disorders

Author: S. P. K. Jena

Category: Health Studies


Eating disorders are one of the most prominent health issues among adolescents not only in the West but also in non-Eastern countries like India. Its higher prevalence during adolescence is often seen as a form of defense against the demands for greater autonomy and responsibility during this period of transition and is often linked with stress as the key variable. However, empirical studies attribute this to the changing patterns of family dynamics during adolescence. Whereas, in contrast to this, the psychiatric morbidity model suggests that, eating disorders are seen as manifestations of psychological disturbances such as major depression and obsessive-compulsive disorders, at some point of time, as these disorders are almost three times more common among patients, particularly, with anorexia nervosa. Whereas, addictive models of eating disorders suggest that, eating disorders are driven by a compulsion to eat or avoid eating in spite of either satiation or deprivation, respectively in obesity and anorexia nervosa, whereas sociocultural models emphasize social and familial expectations as well as social desirability as the driving force. Psychoanalytic models on the other hand focus on the underlying unconscious motives at the core of eating disorders, and cognitive models, on the underlying thoughts and belief systems, whereas, the biological models have attributed eating disorders to genetics and biochemistry. The article attempts to critically evaluate these prevalent contemporary models of eating disorders.

Keywords: eating disorders, anorexia, family dynamics, addictive model, psychoanalytic model

DOI: 10.56490/IJHS.2022.4204