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. 2019 Aug;24(4):683-691.
doi: 10.1007/s40519-019-00724-6. Epub 2019 Jun 10.

Association Between Orthorexia Nervosa, Eating Attitudes and Anxiety Among Medical Students in Lebanese Universities: Results of a Cross-Sectional Study

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Association Between Orthorexia Nervosa, Eating Attitudes and Anxiety Among Medical Students in Lebanese Universities: Results of a Cross-Sectional Study

Youssef Farchakh et al. Eat Weight Disord. .

Abstract

Objective: The objective of the study was to evaluate the association between orthorexia nervosa (ON) tendencies and behaviors, eating attitudes (EAT) and anxiety among a representative sample of medical students in the Lebanese universities.

Methods: This cross-sectional study, conducted between May 2018 and January 2019, enrolled 627 medical students using a proportionate random sample from all seven faculties of medicine in Lebanon. The ORTO-15 scale was used to evaluate ON tendencies and behaviors among participants. Scores below 40 indicate the presence of ON. The Eating Attitude Test-26 and the Hamilton Anxiety Rating A (HAM-A) scales (yielding a psychic and a somatic subscale scores) were used to assess eating attitudes and anxiety, respectively. It is noteworthy that the sum of the EAT items 6, 7, 16 and 17 responses yielded the EAT score that would predict ON.

Results: The results of a linear regression, taking the ORTO-15 score (15 items) as the dependent variable and the EAT total score, the summated score of the EAT items that predict ON and the psychic and somatic anxiety subscales scores as independent variables, showed that a higher EAT score (β = - 0.094) was significantly associated with lower ORTO-15 scores (more orthorexia tendencies and behaviors); whereas, a higher psychic anxiety subscale score (β = 0.117) was significantly associated with higher ORTO-15 scores (lower orthorexia tendencies and behaviors).

Conclusion: This suggests a link between eating disorders and ON which is beyond ON tendencies observed in eating disorders but ON individuals simultaneously have lesser psychological distress and anxiety.

Level of evidence: Level 5, cross-sectional descriptive study.

Keywords: Eating habits; Healthy food; Medical students; Orthorexia nervosa.

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