blog #4- Does family or culture have more of an influence on the occurrence of eating disorders

Does family or culture have more of an influence on the occurrence of eating disorders

In this second post, I’ll be talking about how eating disorder affect the general public, how it affects teens and the culture influence vs family influence. This can tell us the hefty role eating disorders play in our daily lives, especially teens. Then i will address my topic: “Does family or culture have more of an influence on the occurrence of eating disorders?”.

Just like any mental health condition, Eds are complex disorders which develops differently for everyone. For some, it might be losing a few pounds to fit into a new shirt, for others it might be finding comfort in food, and for some it might be because of friends.

90% of teens with anorexia are female.

Young women with anorexia are 12 times more likely to die than women in the same age who does not.

50% teens with eating disorder develops depression

50% teen girls and 30% teen boys uses unhealthy weight control behaviours

70% females states photographies of women on social media and celebrities motivate them to get their “ideal body type”


When you walk past 2 women on the street, both tiny, but one of them is caucasian and the other is asian. You’re told that one of them is anorexic and the other is naturally thin. Who would you pick? Asian women often feel the pressure to be small, thin, pale and quiet. Sexism was taught at quite a young age. Being skinny isn’t just your body image, it’s your whole identity. Therefore, eating disorders are often neglected as everyone just seem to think they were “born like that”.

If you’re Asian, you know that being “fat” is a tantamount to failing a test. The fat phobia is insane in asian countries and the brutal honesty in all of us asians does not help. Cruel comments of your body is constantly made by family members. They would not hold back on commenting on your appearance, as if getting acne or gaining some weigh is your fault. Weight loss is often cheered on by our parents. They treat it like a form of self-care, because to them being skinny means being pretty. Being around extended family causes an extreme amount of anxiety. The universal greeting language of Asian is: have you eaten? If we refused to eat we’re seen as disrespectful. Bearing through hours of being force fed an excessive amount of food, not taking “i’m full” for an answer by the same people that told me I had gained weight since they last saw me is pretty tough.

Caucasian representations of eating disorders are more commonly portrayed on social media. Asians rarely speak out about their eating disorders because they simply don’t know they have one. They’ve been raised like that their whole life, their parents had been raised like that their whole life, treating mental illness like a weakness. The unwillingness to admit that it’s a problem is why it is a problem.


Apart from thecomments our family makes, dysfunctional family dynamics, family and childhood trauma are also some family factors in eating disorder. A dysfunctional family is either one where children are granted too much autonomy for their families age and are actually neglected. Or one in where parents and children entangled in a way where boundaries are violated. A lot of case studies have shown that a patient with disordered eating are from a family where boundary lines are extremely violated with the result that the sense of individuality and independence has not been established by young adulthood. Restricting food was the only way they can establish a sense of control in their lives. Another research shows that people who develop an eating disorder at a young age tend to be hypersensitive. This is easily affected by a home with tension, plain, anger, sorrow, guilt or shame constantly being present. Most physically store these feelings in their stomach and head. Stomach being that the personally literally swallowed her emotions, saying that it’s sensitive, queasy, big, full. When the stomach is full of emotions, its difficult to digest actual food.

So Does family or culture have more of an influence on the occurrence of eating disorders?”. 

Culture values influences ones communication orientation, or the degree of interaction between family members. Culture influences the way each family member think, feel and act on a daily basis. Simply put, family is based on the culture of the family. So arguably, culture have more of an influence on the occurrence than family, because culture defines a family, it’s the starting point of most of the problems in a family.

Bayliss, Jennie. “How Family Influence Eating Habits – and Your Friends Too!” Jennie Bayliss, 4 Sept. 2019,

Durrette, Cristobella. “For Those With Eating Disorders, Holidays In A Pandemic Can Create Extra Anxiety.” Houston Public Media, 17 Dec. 2020,

“Eating Disorders and Adolescents.” Better Health Channel,

“Eating Disorders in the Asian American Community: A Call for Cultural Consciousness – MEDA – Multi-Service Eating Disorders Association.” MEDA, 8 Aug. 2018,

“Eating Disorders.” Focus on the Family, 23 June 2020,

Louie, Sam. “Eating Disorders Spread Among Asians.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 13 June 2017,

NOZARI, ELAHEH. “The Truth About Asian Women and Eating Disorders.” Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, 15 July 2017,

Pike, Kathleen M., and Patricia E. Dunne. “The Rise of Eating Disorders in Asia: a Review.” Journal of Eating Disorders, BioMed Central, 17 Sept. 2015,

Schwartz , Allan. “Eating Disorders and Family Boundaries.” Mental Help Eating Disorders and Family Boundaries Comments,

3 Replies to “blog #4- Does family or culture have more of an influence on the occurrence of eating disorders”

  1. Hello there Ronnie,

    I found it interesting how you said some may not even know they have an ED, and that is definitely true. Sometimes beliefs are embedded so deep that it just appears to be normal. Another thought-provoking line of yours was “Stomach being that the personally literally swallowed her emotions, saying that it’s sensitive, queasy, big, full. When the stomach is full of emotions, its difficult to digest actual food.”

    I remember providing quite a few great resources in my last few comments, so I just have to say great work! Thank you for the scenario perspectives and follow-up questions at your points of intrigue.

    Some resources with real-world news updates on EDs: (during the pandemic – would 101% recommend!)

    Excellent work Ronnie!

    Warm Regards,


  2. Hi Ronnie,

    Those stats are crazy! There is a blunt manner to body image in many cultures. I think because that is the norm, teens in those environments would be negatively affected. The behavior contributes to the possibility of an eating disorder, but I think the worst damage is done to a person’s self-image. Of course, only the people close to you would comment on your body negatively. From anyone else, it would be extremely rude and obvious that it is so. With family, it’s harder to be upset because they are comfortable with you and joke around at times. I think you could research more on a solution at the end of all of your posts. Maybe just a quick paragraph providing ways to disregard the negative comments and how to retaliate against the body hate.

    Here are some hopefully helpful links,things%20about%20how%20kids%20look

    Great job!

    Shieva Mokhtarnameh

  3. Hi Ronnie!

    I really liked your post, it was very interesting to read. I’ve never really thought much about how big of an influence culture has on eating disorders. Now, thinking back, I can think of a lot of examples of this, even in my own life. I wonder to what point eating disorders are normalized in different cultures, making it hard to differentiate normal habits and harmful ones. It really made me think.

    I also loved your conclusion at the end, and how you said that culture defines a family, and is often the root of family problems. Do you think that different cultures are more susceptible to eating disorders, or are we all just affected in different ways?

    I look forward to reading your future research,
    -Jasmine 🙂

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