Eating disorders have multifactorial origins, a reason why they are popularly approached from several perspectives. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence has recommended that clinicians and social workers should pay attention to the psychosocial facets of eating disorders, with the implication that social and psychological elements are mediating factors in the development and treatment of such maladies.
Recently, there has been an upsurge of research studies focusing on the sociocultural perspectives which underpin eating disorders, and this is a result of the overlap between egalitarianist and socio-cultural fields. Most of these studies are meta-analyses that apply various sociological theories such as the social learning theory proposed by Albert Bandura, as well as the theory of double consciousness. This paper focuses on the development of eating disorders from a sociological perspective, beginning with background information regarding the issue and proceeding to the theories that explain the disorder, before outlining the implications for further research.
Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are the most prevalent eating disorders in the society today, whether they are construed as single clinical presentations or treated as individual and distinct syndromes.
They have hit epidemic proportions in the society especially among the adolescents, with Nagel and Jones (107) suggesting that the failure to consider the sociological aspects of eating disorders is an impediment to the mitigation of such developments.
Exposure to the Western ideal of physical appearance has led the youth into the development of such disorders, and this is mainly a sociocultural concept as asserted by Holmes (548). Body dissatisfaction is a salient feature among the youth, leading to the dieting behaviors that are widespread across the globe. Gender has also been reported as a significant risk factor for the development of these disorders, and sociological aspects call for the social elements in the study, treatment, and prevention of such disorders.
Patel, Tchanturia, and Harrison (17) carried out a research study in which they sought to determine the concept of social functioning in young people with eating disorders. The study that was conducted in New Hampshire sought ethical approval from the Hampstead Hospital and Research Center, since the participants were to be picked from the hospital.
The researchers drew on previous research studies which had indicated that people with eating disorders had significantly smaller social circles, with difficulties in social aspects such as the establishment and maintenance of meaningful interpersonal relationships (Patel 19). Employing a descriptive research design, Patel and colleagues sampled out individuals seeing an eating disorders specialist to serve as participants.