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Greetfeld, Martin; Hessler-Kaufmann, Johannes Baltasar; Brandl, Beate; Skurk, Tomas; Holzapfel, Christina; Quadflieg, Norbert; Schlegl, Sandra; Hauner, Hans and Voderholzer, Ulrich (2020): Orthorexic tendencies in the general population: association with demographic data, psychiatric symptoms, and utilization of mental health services. In: Eating and weight disorders : EWD, Vol. 26: pp. 1511-1519 [PDF, 608kB]


PURPOSE Orthorexia nervosa (ON) is characterized by a preoccupation to eat healthily and restrictive eating habits despite negative psychosocial and physical consequences. As a relatively new construct, its prevalence and correlates in the general population and the associated utilization of mental health services are unclear. METHODS Adults from the general population completed the Düsseldorf Orthorexia Scale (DOS), the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ), the Short Eating Disorder Examination (SEED). RESULTS Five-hundred eleven (63.4% female) participants with a mean age of 43.39 (SD = 18.06) completed the questionnaires. The prevalence of ON according to the DOS was 2.3%. Considering only effects of at least intermediate size, independent samples t-tests suggested higher DOS scores for persons with bulimia nervosa (p < .001, Cohen's d = 1.14), somatoform syndrome (p = .012, d = .60), and major depressive syndrome (compared p < .001, d = 1.78) according to PHQ as well as those who reported to always experience fear of gaining weight (p < .001, d = 1.78). The DOS score correlated moderately strong and positively with the PHQ depression (r = .37, p < .001) and stress (r = .33, p < .001) scores as well as the SEED bulimia score (r = .32, p < .001). In multivariate logistic regression analyses, only PHQ depression~scores were associated with past psychotherapeutic or psychiatric treatment (OR = 1.20, p = .002) and intake of psychotropic medication in the last year (OR = 1.22, p = .013). CONCLUSIONS The prevalence of ON was low compared to international studies but is in line with other non-representative German studies. Orthorexic tendencies related to general mental distress and eating disorder symptoms but were no independent reason for seeking treatment. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE Level V, cross-sectional descriptive study.

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