Orthorexic and restrained eating behaviour in vegans, vegetarians, and individuals on a diet

Eat Weight Disord. 2018 Apr;23(2):159-166. doi: 10.1007/s40519-018-0479-0. Epub 2018 Feb 3.


Purpose: Orthorexic eating behaviour, restrained eating, and veganism/vegetarianism are food selection strategies sharing several characteristics. Since there are no studies investigating their interrelationships, aim of the present study was to analyse orthorexic and restrained eating behaviour in (1) a sample of vegans and vegetarians and (2) a sample of individuals on a diet to lose weight.

Method: Division of samples according to pre-defined criteria in (1) vegans (n = 114), vegetarians (n = 63), individuals with rare meat consumption (n = 83) and individuals with frequent meat consumption (n = 91) and in (2) participants on a diet with dietary change (n = 104), without dietary change (n = 37) and a control group of individuals not on a diet (n = 258). Orthorexic eating behaviour was assessed with the Düsseldorfer Orthorexie Skala and restrained eating was assessed with the Restraint Eating Scale.

Results: Vegans and vegetarians do not differ in orthorexic eating behaviour, but both groups score higher in orthorexic eating behaviour than individuals consuming red meat. There are no differences regarding restrained eating. Individuals on a diet with dietary change score higher in both orthorexic and restrained eating, than individuals without dietary change and individuals not on a diet.

Conclusions: Individuals who restrict their eating behaviour, either predominantly due to ethical reasons or with the intention to lose weight, display more orthorexic eating behaviour than individuals not limiting their food consumption. Further research is needed to investigate whether veganism, vegetarianism, or frequent dieting behaviour serve as risk factors for orthorexia.

Level of evidence: Level V, cross-sectional descriptive study.

Keywords: Dieting behaviour; Orthorexia nervosa; Restrained eating; Veganism; Vegetarianism.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet, Reducing / psychology*
  • Diet, Vegan / psychology
  • Diet, Vegetarian / psychology
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Food Preferences
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Vegans / psychology*
  • Vegetarians / psychology*
  • Young Adult