Clean eating can become an unhealthy obsession, finds a new study, and those with a history of obsessive-compulsive traits, dieting and poor body image are more likely to develop this, known as orthorexia nervosa (ON). Over time, increasing amounts of effort over healthy meals becomes an obsession. : Health

The title of the post is a copy and paste from the title, first and fourth paragraphs of the linked academic press release here:

When does clean eating become an unhealthy obsession? New research findings on who is at risk

Researchers at York University’s Faculty of Health say those who have a history of an eating disorder, obsessive-compulsive traits, dieting, poor body image, and a drive for thinness are more likely to develop a pathological obsession with healthy eating or consuming only healthy food, known as orthorexia nervosa (ON).

Over time, they spend increasing amounts of time and effort purchasing, planning, and preparing pure and healthy meals, which eventually becomes an all-consuming obsession that interferes with other areas of life and results in weight loss.

Journal Reference:

Sarah E. McComb, Jennifer S. Mills,

Orthorexia nervosa: A review of psychosocial risk factors,

Appetite, Volume 140, 2019, Pages 50-75, ISSN 0195-6663,




Orthorexia nervosa (ON) is a condition described as a pathological obsession with healthy eating. This paper will review the prevalence of ON and how ON is measured. The primary objective is to critically analyze findings on the psychosocial risk factors associated with ON, to consider its relation to other mental disorders, and to offer directions for future research. The key words “orthorexia” and “orthorexia nervosa” were searched in the databases PsycINFO and MEDLINE/PubMed. This paper reviewed peer-reviewed articles published up until December 31st, 2018. Quality assessment was conducted on each study reviewed. Results identified psychometric problems with the most common measure of ON. Gender and self-esteem were generally found to be unrelated to ON. Perfectionism, obsessive-compulsive traits, psychopathology, disordered eating, history of an eating disorder, dieting, poor body image, and drive for thinness were positively associated with greater ON. Findings between ON and the following risk factors were mixed: age, SES, BMI, belonging to a health-related field, exercise engagement, vegetarianism/veganism, body dissatisfaction, and alcohol, tobacco, and drug use. We discuss how the literature on risk factors informs understanding the nature of psychopathology of ON. Strengths and limitations of studies are reviewed and directions for future research are identified. Suggestions are made for more psychometrically valid assessment measures of ON that include questions about impairment, so that ON etiology can be accurately studied.

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