Orthorexia Nervosa in College Students: Eating Disorder History, Gender, and Dieting Behaviors

Orthorexia Nervosa in College Students: Eating Disorder History, Gender, and Dieting Behaviors​ poster

PROJECT OF MERIT

Research Authorship:

Katrina Agger, Brittany Moran, Zhiping Yu, Ph.D., RDN, LDN

Faculty Mentor:

Dr. Zhiping Yu | Brooks College of Health | Department of Nutrition and Dietetics

Abstract:

Objective: College students are at higher risk for the development of orthorexia nervosa (ON), a term used to describe the pathological obsession with healthy eating. This study aimed to assess how the factors of eating disorder (ED) history, gender, and dieting behaviors affect the ON in this population.

Methods: Students 18 years or older in a southeastern university were invited to take an online survey. Survey questions include Bratman Orthorexia Test (BOT), Eating Attitude Test-26 (EAT-26) and participant characteristics.

Results: 411 students (ages 18-65, BMI 15.1-55.5, female 75.2%, white 75.6%, graduate students 16.1%) have completed the survey. Comparing to students without ED history, students with ED history had higher ON risk (5.6 vs. 4.3, p<0.0001) and higher percentage being a health fanatic or orthorexic (66.1% vs. 46.6%, p=0.006). Female students had higher ON total scores (4.6 vs. 4.0, p=0.02) but statistically the same percentage of females had high ON risk as males (52.1% vs. 41.6%, p=0.07). Students who are characterized as health fanatic or orthorexic had higher dieting scores comparing to those who are not (11.7 vs. 3.7, p<0.0001).

Conclusion: Understanding the characteristics associated with ON among college students would be important for assessment, prevention and treatment of ON and ED in this population.

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