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Orthorexia nervosa is a concern in gastroenterology: A scoping review

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There is concern that use of restrictive therapeutic diets, such as those used in disorders of the gut-brain interaction (DGBI), may increase disordered eating. In this issue of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, Burton Murray et al. and Peters et al. both demonstrate a high prevalence of disordered eating in patients with gastrointestinal conditions, particularly those with DGBI. Given these findings, it is likely that orthorexia is common in this patient group, although this was not directly examined in these studies. Orthorexia nervosa is described as an obsessive and unsafe focus on eating foods perceived as healthy. This mini-review therefore focuses on orthorexia by conducting a scoping review, as per the PRISMA extension for scoping reviews, aimed to assess the prevalence of orthorexia, and associations between orthorexia and restrictive eating practices. While a wide range of orthorexia prevalence has been reported (0%–97%) across the 57 studies included, no studies assessed prevalence specifically in gastrointestinal conditions. Four of eight studies describing diseases associated with specific dietary patterns suggested that participants who followed a diet for “digestive issues” or “food intolerances” were at higher orthorexia risk. These results suggest that dietary modifications may be a factor contributing to orthorexia. Additionally, we provide a commentary on the clinical implications of the findings for gastrointestinal conditions including a clinical flow chart. Clinicians should consider if a restrictive diet is appropriate for individuals with DGBI and include screening for disordered eating prior to implementation of dietary modifications. Future prospective studies should evaluate orthorexia within this patient group.


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Neurogastroenterology and Motility





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This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made. © 2022 The Authors. Neurogastroenterology & Motility published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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