The prevalence of orthorexia nervosa among eating disorder patients after treatment
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The pursuit for healthy food consumption is considered a laudable habit. This attitude can turn into pathological when cognitions and worries about healthy nutrition lead to such an accurate food selection that correct diet becomes the most important part of one’s own life leading to important dietary restrictions, stereotyped eating or impairment in important areas of functioning. This behaviour is coined orthorexia nervosa (ON) and can share common characteristics with anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN). The purpose of the present study was to examine the frequency of ON among women with eating disorders (EDs) and to evaluate if it changed after treating the ED.
Thirty-two patients with AN or BN were evaluated by means of the ORTO-15, the Yale-Brown-Cornell Eating Disorder Scale (YBC-EDS) and the Eating Attitude Test (EAT-26) before (t0) and 3 years after the treatment of their ED (t1), and compared to 32 female healthy controls (HC) matched by gender, age, and BMI at t1.
A significantly higher percentage of patients either at t0 (28 %) or t1 (58 %) resulted positive to ORTO-15 compared to controls (6 %). YBC-EDS and EAT-26 scores were higher among ED patients than in HC, but they decreased from t0 to t1.
Orthorexia nervosa symptoms are highly prevalent among patients with AN and BN, and tend to increase after treatment. ON seems associated both with the clinical improvement of AN and BN and the migration towards less severe forms of EDs. It is necessary to clarify if ON residual symptomatology can be responsible for a greater number of relapses and recurrences of EDs.
KeywordsOrthorexia nervosa Anorexia nervosa Bulimia nervosa
No grant was obtained for this research.
Conflict of interest
All authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
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