Orthorexic eating behaviour as a coping strategy in patients with anorexia nervosa.Eat Weight Disord. 2017 Jun; 22(2):269-276.EW
Orthorexia nervosa is defined as the fixation on health-conscious eating behaviour and has recently been discussed as a new variant of disordered eating. The aim of the present study was to analyse orthorexic eating behaviour in an inpatient treatment sample of female anorexics to investigate the relation between anorexic and orthorexic eating behaviour.
Female anorexic patients with low (n = 29) and pronounced (n = 13) orthorexic eating behaviour as well as a matched control group composed of healthy females (n = 30) were compared with regard to several aspects of disordered eating, hypochondriacal traits, food consumption frequency and fulfilment of basic psychological needs in terms of eating. Orthorexic eating behaviour was assessed using the Düsseldorfer Orthorexie Skala.
Fulfilment of basic psychological needs with respect to autonomy and competence is higher in anorexic individuals with pronounced orthorexic eating behaviour compared to patients with low orthorexic eating behaviour. Furthermore, patients with pronounced orthorexic eating behaviour state eating healthy food regardless of calorie content more often. No difference was found for hypochondriacal traits and eating disordered symptoms in general.
Orthorexic eating behaviour enhances self-perception of eating behaviour as autonomous and competent, indicating that it might serve as a coping strategy in anorexic individuals. Further research is needed to investigate if this tendency in food selection strategy leads to positive effects in the long term.