Food addiction, orthorexia, and food-related stress among dietetics students
Health sciences, and in particular Nutrition and Dietetics students, have been shown to exhibit an increased prevalence of disordered eating. The aim of the present cross-sectional study was to evaluate other specified feeding and eating disorders (OSFEDs), including stress-related eating, food addiction, and orthorexia, in relation to the dietary intake, among nutrition/dietetics students.
A total of 176 undergraduate students from a Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, in Greece, participated in the study. Dietary intake was recorded, and the prevalence of Eating and Appraisal Due to Emotion and Stress (EADES), food addiction (with the modified Yale Food Addition scale mYFAS), and orthorexia were assessed. Chi-square and t tests were performed between sexes, orthorexic and non-orthorexic students, as well as between food-addicted and non-addicted participants. Multiple linear regression analysis assessed relationships between energy intake, BMI or waist circumference, and the food-related psychometric scales.
Among participating students, 4.5% had food addiction and 68.2% demonstrated orthorexia. No differences were observed between men and women, concerning the prevalence of food addiction and orthorexia, the sum of mYFAS symptoms, or individual EADES factors. Orthorexic students exhibited increased BMI, reduced energy, and saturated fat intake. In addition, orthorexic men consumed more vegetables. Multiple linear regression analysis revealed that orthorexic behavior was associated with increased BMI, waist circumference and energy intake. Lower BMI was associated with increasing ability to cope with emotion-and-stress-related eating and increasing appraisal of ability and resources to cope with emotions and stress. Emotion-and-stress-related eating was negatively associated with BMI. Appraisal of ability and resources to cope with emotions and stress was associated with the energy intake. Finally, age was positively correlated with the appraisal of outside stressors/influences, indicating increased ability to cope with outside stressors among older students.
The study shows that despite the suggested interventions, the problem of OSFEDs among nutrition and dietetics students is still valid. Regular screening, counseling, and education is needed to reduce its prevalence.
Level of evidence
Level V, cross-sectional descriptive study.
KeywordsDisordered eating Eating disorders OFSED EDNOS University Nutrition College students University students EADES YFAS
The research team would like to extend our thanks to the participating dietetics students.
No funding was secured for the present study.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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