Prevalence of orthorexia nervosa among ashtanga yoga practitioners: a pilot study
Orthorexia nervosa (ON, i.e., fixation on righteous eating) is a poorly defined disordered eating behavior that results from a pathological obsession with food, its purported nutritional value, composition, origin, etc.
We investigated the prevalence of ON in a local ashtanga yoga community, by using a validated questionnaire (ORTO-15) that sets a threshold of ON diagnosis at ≤40.
Among the 136 respondents, the mean ORTO-15 score (which was normally distributed) was 35.27 ± 3.69, i.e., 86 % of respondents had an ORTO-15 score lower than 40 and no significant association with age or BMI was recorded. When we analyzed the differential distribution of orthorexia in our cohort, we recorded an association of ORTO-15 score and vegetarianism, i.e., the ORTO-15 score was lower among vegetarians.
The results of this pilot study should suggest ashtanga yoga teachers to avoid excessive reference to a healthy diet, which is natural component of yoga practice.