Review

Eating and Weight Disorders - Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 103-111

First online:

Evidence and gaps in the literature on orthorexia nervosa

  • Márta VargaAffiliated withInstitute of Behavioral Sciences, Semmelweis University Email author 
  • , Szilvia Dukay-SzabóAffiliated withInstitute of Behavioral Sciences, Semmelweis University
  • , Ferenc TúryAffiliated withInstitute of Behavioral Sciences, Semmelweis University
  • , F. van Furth EricAffiliated withCenter for Eating Disorders Ursula

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Abstract

Aim

To review the literature on the prevalence, risk groups and risk factors of the alleged eating disorder orthorexia nervosa.

Methods

We searched Medline and Pubmed using several key terms relating to orthorexia nervosa (ON) and checked the reference list of the articles that we found. Attention was given to methodological problems in these studies, such as the use of non-validated assessment instruments, small sample size and sample characteristics, which make generalization of the results impossible.

Results

Eleven studies were found. The average prevalence rate for orthorexia was 6.9 % for the general population and 35–57.8 % for high-risk groups (healthcare professionals, artists). Dieticians and other healthcare professionals are at high risk of ON. Risk factors include obsessive–compulsive features, eating-related disturbances and higher socioeconomic status. Relevant clinical experience, published literature and research data have increased in the last few years.

Discussion

The definition and diagnostic criteria of ON remain unclear. Further studies are needed to clarify appropriate diagnostic methods and the place of ON among psychopathological categories.

Keywords

Orthorexia nervosa Healthy eating Eating disorder Obsessive–compulsive disorder Prevalence Risk factors Risk groups Obsessionality Healthcare professionals