When does clean eating become an unhealthy obsession? New research findings on who is at risk | York Media Relations
TORONTO, May 14, 2019 – 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). Although eating healthy is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, for some people this preoccupation with healthy eating can become physically and socially impairing.
In the first exhaustive review of the psychosocial risk factors associated with orthorexia nervosa, York University psychology researchers examined all studies published up until the end of 2018 in two popular databases. They looked at studies that examined how orthorexia nervosa is related to psychosocial risk factors that predisposed or made an individual vulnerable to or more likely to develop the condition. They then amalgamated all available findings for each risk factor to reach conclusions about which psychosocial factors were most reliably associated with the condition.
“The long-term impact of these findings is that they will lead to better recognition among healthcare providers as well as members of the public that so-called healthy eating can, in fact, be unhealthy. It can lead to malnourishment or make it very difficult to socialize with people in settings that involve eating. It can also be expensive and time-consuming,” says Jennifer Mills, associate professor in the Department of Psychology and senior author on the study.