What are the causes? In most cases, there is not a single reason for an eating disorder occurring. There are several risk factors that can increase the likelihood of somebody having an eating disorder, including: being criticised for their eating habits, body shape or weightdifficult relationships with family members or friendsparticular experiences, such as sexual or emotional abuse or the death of someone specialhaving a family member that has suffered with an eating disorderbeing affected by pressure from ‘society’ to be slim (eg from looking at pictures of models and celebrities)certain personality traits (eg being obsessive, anxious, having low self-esteem or being a perfectionist)stressful situations (eg problems at work, school or university). Recent research suggests that genetic factors play a part in eating disorders. How is it treated? If it is not treated, an eating disorder can have a negative impact on someone’s job or schoolwork, and can disrupt relationships with family members and friends. The physical effects of an eating disorder can sometimes be fatal. Initially treatment may focus on correcting physical symptoms of an eating disorder. Extreme weight loss can result in loss of cognitive function so it is important that a person who is under weight is treated appropriately in order to receive further psychological help, Long-term treatment of an eating disorder will involve psychological therapy to help identify and ultimately change the unhealthy attitude to food that has developed. This may involve: cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – aims to change patterns of thinking or behaviour that are behind people’s difficulties, and so change the way they feelinterpersonal psychotherapy – this is a talking therapy that focuses on the relationships a person has with family or friendspsychodynamic therapy – this is a type of counselling that focuses on how a person’s personality and life experiences influence their current thoughts, feelings, relationships and behaviourdietary counselling – this is a talking therapy to help people maintain a healthy diet. Inheritance patterns and prenatal diagnosis Inheritance patternsNot applicable. Prenatal diagnosisNot applicable. Is there support? Beat (Beating Eating Disorders) Youthline (under 25s): 0808 801 0711 (Monday to Sunday, 4pm- 10pm)Youthline email: firstname.lastname@example.org (aim to respond within 24 hours) Adult helpline: 0808 801 0677 (Monday to Sunday, 4pm-10pm)Adult email: email@example.com (aim to respond within 24 hours) Website: b-eat.co.uk The Association is a Registered Charity in England and Wales No. 801343. It provides information and support and a network of support groups to help adults and young people in the UK beat their eating disorders. Beat has two helplines: a Youthline for young people up to the age of 25, and an Adult Helpline. The Association offers a Transitions Project for young people in London. Group details last updated May 2017.