Pathological Preoccupation with Healthy Eating (Orthorexia Nervosa) in a Spanish Sample with Vegetarian, Vegan, and Non-Vegetarian Dietary Patterns

Nutrients. 2020 Dec 21;12(12):3907. doi: 10.3390/nu12123907.


Orthorexia nervosa (ON) has been defined as an obsessive and pathological attitude towards healthy nutrition. The aim of this study was to compare individuals who followed a vegan, vegetarian, and omnivore diet in terms of ON behaviors and to examine their prime motivations, attitudes, and behaviors towards food. The Spanish version of the ORTO-15 test - ORTO-11-ES - and the Food Choice Questionnaire (FCQ-SP) were used with a demographic questionnaire in an online survey disseminated among the social networks of different vegetarian associations and the general population. Of 466 individuals, 55% followed an omnivore diet, 23.5% were vegetarian and 21.7% were vegan. Results revealed relationships between type of diet and FCQ-SP dimensions for: health and natural content (H = 8.7, p < 0.05), sensory appeal (H = 11.4, p < 0.01), weight control (H = 40.4, p < 0.01), and familiarity (H = 37.3, p < 0.01). Our results confirm the findings of recent studies showing that individuals who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet are more likely to develop a pathological preoccupation with healthy eating versus omnivores. Further studies are required to determine the potential lines of action for the prevention of ON.

Keywords: FCQ-SP; ORTO-11-ES; orthorexia nervosa; vegans; vegetarians.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Diet, Healthy / psychology*
  • Diet, Vegan / psychology*
  • Diet, Vegetarian / psychology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / psychology*
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Spain
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vegans / psychology
  • Vegetarians / psychology