Incidents of eating disorders (EDs) are on the rise, with EDs being the leading cause of death among psychiatric disorders in the DSM IV-TR (Thompson, Roehrig, & Kinder, 2007). The four types of eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, EDNOS, and binge-eating disorder (APA, 2000). There are multiple facets to etiology for an ED, including the social and cultural aspects. Thompson, Roehrig, and Kinder (2007) suggest that westernized countries have a higher rate of EDs than non-westernized cultures.
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Clinicians find it difficult to identify cases of eating disorder among Caucasians, which makes them less likely to be referred for ED treatment than other races (Becker et al., 2010; Bulik et al., 2012). It is also more difficult to spot eating disorders in men than in women, which implies that they face the same challenges as Caucasians (Bulik et al. 2012). Becker, Arrindell, Perloe, Fay, and Striegel-Moore (2010) suggest that culturally imposed stigma and shame may impede help-seeking behavior among different ethnic groups.
Socialization and social roles also influence eating disorders. Studies suggest that the traditional social roles for women, such as dependency, need for approval, passivity, and the need to focus on interpersonal relationships, result in eating disorders (Thompson, Roehrig, & Kinder, 2007). In addition, Thompson et al. (2007) suggest that thin ideals and social limitations give girls the notion that their bodies need to be changed in order to gain success.
Assessing the role of social and cultural factors in the diagnosis and treatment of eating disorders involves the same processes as those used with other population disorders. First, clinicians should be aware of the cultural and social factors mentioned earlier in the paper. They should also focus on the stereotypes and biases that may affect both their views and those of their clients. The study by Becker et al. (2010) noted that clinician stereotyping resulted in non-culturally informed treatment, which affected the progress of several participants.
One of the techniques that can be used to assess the role of socio-cultural factors is structured interviews. For instance, a good Eating Disorder Examination (EDE) can include structured interviews for Anorexia and Bulimic disorders. EDE scores comprise four subscales, including restraint, eating concern, shape concern, and weight concern (Thompson et al., 2007). The Structured Interview for Anorexia and Bulimic Disorders has six subscales. These are body image, general psychopathology, measures to counteract weight gain, fasting and substance abuse, sexuality and social integration, bulimic symptoms, and atypical binges.