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Susan Cowden, MS

Life Cycle Transitions Can Trigger Eating Disorders

By April 27, 2012

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Researchers at the University of Minnesota recently published new research regarding triggering events for eating disorders.  They found, after interviewing 27 individuals in treatment for an eating disorder, that stressful family life cycle transitions often trigger the onset of an eating disorder.  These included life transitions such as entering middle school or leaving for college, the divorce of one's parents or the death of a family member or close friend.  Other transitions such as relationship changes, serious illness and abuse or sexual assault were also considered triggering events.

Interestingly, over half of the participants in the study reported two or more transitions as triggering events in the history of their eating disorder.  It is theorized that while most people go through stressful transitions without developing an eating disorder, that having a lack of needed support can increase the likelihood that eating and body image issues will surface.

Did you or someone you know experience a stressful transition prior to developing an eating disorder?

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