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Int J Eat Disord. 2017 Jul;50(7):781-792. doi: 10.1002/eat.22710. Epub 2017 Mar 28.

Attitudes toward orthorexia nervosa relative to DSM-5 eating disorders.

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Department of Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, 23284-2018.
Department of Pediatrics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, 23284-2018.



A pattern of disordered eating involving a pathological fixation with healthy food consumption, labeled orthorexia nervosa (ON), has recently generated attention; however, research has not yet investigated perceptions of ON-related behaviors. This study examined potential stigmatization of ON, compared with DSM-5 ED diagnoses.


Participants (N = 505) were randomly assigned to read a vignette depicting a woman with anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), binge-eating disorder (BED), or ON. They then answered questions about the individual depicted in the vignette. A series of MANOVAs investigated whether opinions and beliefs about the person depicted varied as a function of the disorder described in the vignette.


Individuals with ON were perceived as less likely to "improve with treatment" than individuals with BN, and less likely to "pull themselves together," than individuals with BED. Individuals with ON and AN were viewed as "hard[er] to talk to" and more of a "danger to others" compared with individuals with BED. ON was viewed as less distressing, less likely to evoke sympathy, and more acceptable than the other disorders. Finally, "poor living choices" were perceived as contributing more substantially to ON. Participants' attributions of various personality characteristics did not differ based on ED diagnosis.


Results suggest that ON is viewed as less severe, more desirable, and more often the result of personal life choices. However, findings also imply that ON is associated with stigma, similar to DSM-5 EDs. These negative attitudes might reinforce ON behaviors, and limit awareness of their potential complications.


attitudes; eating disorders; orthorexia nervosa; perceptions; stigma

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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