Can Diet Trends Lead to an Eating Disorder? 

Wednesday, Nov 02  •  


Can fad diets cause eating disorders?

Diets have been a prevalent part of our culture for decades now. However, thanks to the increasing use and influence of social media, digital advertising, and the ease of cultural exchange, the internet is chock-full of fad diets and “lose-weight-quickly” diet trends that promise flawless results. The truth is that it’s easy to fall prey to these trends and fad diets due to the effective before-and-after pictures, flashy slogans, and convincing rhetoric. However, it is a slippery slope and can result in people developing unhealthy relationships with food. But can fad diets result in eating disorders?

Causes of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are complex health conditions that have multiple root causes. For example, your genes can predispose you to an eating disorder. That being said, many environmental and social factors can also cause someone to develop an eating disorder. Traumatic experiences like sexual or physical violence or abuse can be a root cause. These disorders are also born out of the need to achieve perfectionism, low self-esteem issues, or body image problems. Diet culture essentially brings these issues to the forefront by constantly showing you images to fan unrealistic expectations. 

Can Fad Diets Cause Eating Disorders?

So, can fad diets or dieting trends cause eating disorders? Research suggests that dieting is the most vital predictor of a developing eating disorder in people aged 14 and 15. A study discovered that teens who dieted moderately were five times more likely to develop an eating disorder, and those who practiced extreme dietary restrictions were 18 times more likely to develop an eating disorder than those who did not follow any diet plans. 

Dieting trends or fad diets are popular weight-loss plans that promise unbelievable results in a short time. These diets are mostly unhealthy and do not result in long-term weight loss. Some can also be dangerous to your health. For instance, a fad diet that tells you to replace all your food items with juices to consume more fruits and veggies cannot be healthy since it keeps you from having a balanced diet. 

If one continues down the path of fad diets, they risk developing an unhealthy relationship with food. These diets cause you to believe that starvation is the way to achieve a picture-perfect body. Dieting culture, in general, promotes an unhealthy body image and can make you feel like you’re never enough. It can lead you to attempt multiple dieting trends or partake in fad diets, making you susceptible to eating disorders. 

However, not everyone who consumes such content or diets vigorously develops an eating disorder. Fad diets can cause eating disorders by adding fuel to the fire of existing body image issues and low self-esteem while giving birth to unrealistic body image expectations in people with an existing predisposition to these disorders. 

Seek Professional Eating Disorder Treatment 

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, contact Avalon Hills for professional eating disorder treatment. Our focus is to help people overcome their eating disorders through sustainable techniques for lifelong recovery. Learn more about our program and our Treat to Outcome philosophy here.