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Psicologia, Saúde & Doenças

Print version ISSN 1645-0086


GONCALVES, Sónia F.; MACHADO, Bárbara C.  and  MACHADO, Paulo P.P.. The role of social and cultural factors in the development of eating disorders: A literature review. Psic., Saúde & Doenças [online]. 2011, vol.12, n.2, pp.280-297. ISSN 1645-0086.

Eating disorders are serious disorders characterized by major changes in eating behaviour associated with extreme preoccupations with weight and physical shape. The aetiology of these disorders is, like other psychopathologies, considered to be complex and multifactorial. Eating disorders are more common in western societies that value a female thin body image as beauty ideal. Perhaps for that reason, sociocultural factors are often seen as responsible for the increase of the incidence of eating disorders. However, the discrepancy between the values of the prevalence of eating disorders and the total number of people submitted to the social pressure to thinness related to personal and interpersonal success, questioned the importance of that exposure in the development of eating disorders. The present paper presents a review of studies that shows the role of sociocultural factors in the development of eating disorders and the reason why these disorders are called culture-bound syndromes, as well some alternative perspectives that show the fragility of aetiologic models that emphasize the importance of these factors in the complex etiology of eating disorders.

Keywords : Eating disorders; Sociocultural factors; Etiology.

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