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Correlates of orthorexia nervosa among a representative sample of the Lebanese population

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Abstract

Introduction

Orthorexia nervosa (ON), or the pathological preoccupation and “fixation on healthy food” has been emerging as a new eating disorder. A limited amount of literature exists today on the prevalence of ON. The objective of the current study was to assess factors associated with ON tendencies and behaviors among a representative sample of the Lebanese population.

Methods

This was a cross-sectional study, conducted between January and May 2018, which enrolled 811 participants from all Lebanese governorates. The ORTHO-15 scale was used to evaluate ON tendencies and behaviors among participants. Scores below 40 indicate the presence of ON.

Results

The results showed that 589 (75.2%) participants had ON tendencies and behaviors. The results of the multivariable analysis taking the ORTHO-15 score as the dependent variable, showed that female gender (Beta = − 0.739), starving to lose weight (Beta = − 0.859), convincing others to follow a diet (Beta = − 0.971), thinking that eating out is unhealthy (Beta = − 0.931) and increased EAT (eating attitudes test) scores (Beta = − 0.087) were associated with higher level of orthorexia tendencies and behaviors (lower ORTHO-15 scores).

Conclusion

A highly unexpected prevalence of ON tendencies and behaviors was found in our sample. The Lebanese population might have high preoccupation behavior towards healthy and proper nutrition. Social awareness and behavioral intervention programs are warranted to follow a healthy diet and lifestyle behaviors, and consequently overcome ON.

Level of evidence

Level 5, cross-sectional descriptive study.

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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. The Psychiatric Hospital of the Cross Ethics and Research Committee, in compliance with the Hospital’s Regulatory Research Protocol, approved this study protocol (HPC-020-2018).

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Haddad, C., Obeid, S., Akel, M. et al. Correlates of orthorexia nervosa among a representative sample of the Lebanese population. Eat Weight Disord 24, 481–493 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40519-018-0631-x

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