Orthorexia nervosa: A preliminary study with a proposal for diagnosis and an attempt to measure the dimension of the phenomenon

  • L. M. DoniniEmail author
  • D. Marsili
  • M. P. Graziani
  • M. Imbriale
  • C. Cannella
Brief Report and New Hypotheses


Aim: To propose a diagnostic proceeding and to try to verify the prevalence of orthorexia nervosa (ON), an eating disorder defined as “a maniacal obsession for healthy foods”. Materials and Methods: 404 subjects were enrolled. Diagnosis of ON was based on both the presence of a disorder with obsessive-compulsive personality features and an exaggerated healthy eating behaviour pattern. Results: Of the 404 subjects examined, 28 were found to suffer from ON (prevalence of 6.9%). The analysis of the physiological characteristics, the social-cultural and the psychological behaviour that characterises subjects suffering from ON shows a higher prevalence in men and in those with a lower level of education. The orthorexic subjects attribute characteristics that show their specific “feelings” towards food (“dangerous” to describe a conserved product, “artificial” for industrially produced products, “healthy” for biological produce) and demonstrate a strong or uncontrollable desire to eat when feeling nervous, excited, happy or guilty.

Key word

Orthorexia nervosa health food eating disorders 


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Copyright information

© Editrice Kurtis 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. M. Donini
    • 1
    Email author
  • D. Marsili
    • 1
  • M. P. Graziani
    • 2
  • M. Imbriale
    • 1
  • C. Cannella
    • 1
  1. 1.Istituto di Scienza dell’AlimentazioneUniversità degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”RomaItaly
  2. 2.Istituto di Scienze dell’AlimentazioneCNRAvellinoItaly

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