There is no single cause of eating disorders.
Eating disorders are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Several predisposing factors can influence their development. The issues include low self-esteem, feeling a lack of control over one’s life, or being in an environment or culture that emphasizes thinness or a specific body type. Also, a history of depression, anxiety, or substance abuse may increase the potential for developing eating disorders. The Academy for Eating Disorders notes that some studies suggest there is a genetic link to eating disorders.
Other studies have found that lower levels of brain chemicals, such as serotonin, may be involved. An Academy of Eating Disorders position paper states, “emerging science … affirms with a reasonable degree of medical and scientific certainty that eating disorders are significantly heritable [and] influenced by alterations of brain function.”