19.10.2022 change 19.10.2022

Scientists from Medical University of Silesia study orthorexia and emotional eating

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Orthorexia most often affects people who have high knowledge and skills in the field of healthy eating and are physically active, while those with an unhealthy lifestyle are at risk of emotional eating.

These are the results of an epidemiological study conducted by scientists from the Medical University of Silesia in Katowice, published in the Philadelphia list journal Nutrients.

Orthorexia is an excessive preoccupation with eating healthy food, avoiding certain product groups and consuming foods of unknown origin (for example at family gatherings or in restaurants); in extreme cases it leads to not eating anything.

In turn, emotional eating or eating as a result of emotion and stress (EADES) is the behaviour associated with snacking under the influence of negative emotions and stressful situations. This phenomenon is most often associated with incorrect interpretation of signals given by the body - the state of mental and emotional tension is confused with physiological hunger.

“In our research, we wanted to determine the traits of people who suffer from each disorder,” said nutritional psychologist and public health expert from the Public Health Department of the Faculty of Health Sciences in Bytom, Dr. Mateusz Grajek.

The results obtained in the study indicate that orthorexia occurs three times more often in people who have theoretical knowledge and practical skills in the field of rational nutrition and are physically active. Conversely, emotional eating twice as often affects people with an unhealthy lifestyle: they do not have a healthy diet, they move little and do not cope well with stress.

The results also indicate that people at increased risk of orthorexia and emotional eating tend to overestimate or underestimate the size and caloric content of their meals. 

Dr. Grajek said: “People who overestimate the size of the meal are usually people at increased risk for orthorexia, and people who underestimate the size of the portion usually belong to a group at risk of EADES.”

The study included 300 individuals in the 22-25 age group and concerned the occurrence and psychopathogenesis of orthorexia and eating as a result of emotion and stress among young people with diverse lifestyles - various nutritional habits, levels of experienced stress and approach to physical activity.

Grajek said: “In the coming years, further research will be conducted that - hopefully - will allow to better understand the pathomechanism of these health phenomena.”


author: Anna Gumułka

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