Can eating disorders be contagious?

Certified Eating Disorder Specialist Maggie Baumann, answers the questions of whether eating disorders are contagious and explains some of the factors that may attribute to the spread of eating disorders in children
Contagious Eating Disorders - Can Eating Disorders Be Contagious
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Can eating disorders be contagious?

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I've had a parent ask me before, is an eating disorder contagious? My initial response is no, an eating disorder is not contagious. It's not like the flu or a cold virus that you can catch from someone else. An eating disorder is a very complex medical and psychiatric illness and there's many causes as to why someone develops an eating disorder, social conflicts, environmental factors, traumas, genetics. So it's not something that you can just catch; it's something that is developed from psychological issues. However, one area that we need to really look at is how the media affects us. The media is out there with the TV, the publications, and the newspapers, and those actually affect the way that we see ourselves. So the media is constantly bombarding children with these images of these super thin, ultra-thin women and super fit men that are, like, Photoshopped and they're not real. And so when children see these images, they think that they want to look like that. And then they see themselves and they say, "Oh, I don't look like that. My body's unacceptable." So it's really important for parents to educate children on what the media's doing and how it influences with Photoshop, that what they're seeing out there is almost unachievable.

Certified Eating Disorder Specialist Maggie Baumann, answers the questions of whether eating disorders are contagious and explains some of the factors that may attribute to the spread of eating disorders in children

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Maggie Baumann, MFT, CEDS

Certified Eating Disorder Specialist

Maggie Baumann is a marriage and family therapist in Newport Beach, California, specializing in treating eating disorders, addictions and trauma. Maggie is a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist (CEDS) by the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals. As a woman in recovery from anorexia, she speaks on the topic of eating disorder prevention and treatment to a wide audience. She has been a featured guest on numerous national television shows on eating disorder awareness and quoted in newspapers across the country including the New York Times as well as in national magazines including Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine. Her area of expertise within the eating disorder field is on “pregorexia”, a term describing a pregnant woman who is also struggling with an eating disorder. This is a life-threatening condition affecting the lives of both mom and her unborn baby. 

On a personal front, Maggie has been married 28 years and has two healthy grown daughters, Christine, 25 and Whitney, 24. Being a mom has been the most rewarding experience Maggie has encountered. Maggie enjoys staying active with healthy exercise and loves to be outdoors. Living one mile from the beach allows Maggie the luxury of enjoying the peace of the ocean. Photography, reading and spending time with her two kitties (who are really grown up cats) are other passions she appreciates doing in her leisure time.   

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