Date of Award

June 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Nutrition Science and Dietetics


Lynn S. Brann


Didactic Program in Dietetics, Eating disorders, Eating Habits Questionnaire, Nutrition students, Orthorexia Nervosa, ORTO-15

Subject Categories

Medicine and Health Sciences


Due to high rates of chronic disease, there is a push for healthy eating. Although the adoption of a nutritious diet may seem harmless, in some susceptible individuals it may transform into an unhealthy obsession, referred to as Orthorexia Nervosa (ON). In the current study, ON tendencies were examined in 596 U.S. Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) students. ON symptomology was assessed using ORTO-15, Eating Habits Questionnaire (EHQ), and Inflexible Eating Questionnaire (IEQ). Self-reported dietary intakes were examined via the Automated Self-Administered 24-Hour Dietary Assessment Tool (ASA-24), which was used to determine diet quality via the Healthy Eating Index (HEI)-2015. Spearman’s rho correlations were run to examine the relationship between ORTO-15 and IEQ and ORTO-15 and EHQ. Independent-samples Kruskal-Wallis test was used to assess differences in ON risk and college classification. Chi-Square Tests were conducted to determine differences in ORTO-15, EHQ, and IEQ scores within college year, college/university regional location, and weight status. Independent Samples T-test examined differences in HEI scores in participants with and without ON tendencies. Correlations were conducted to assess relationships between HEI scores with ORTO-15, IEQ, and EHQ scores. More than half (58.7%) of participants had orthorexic tendencies determined via the ORTO-15, with freshman having the greatest risk and graduate students having the least risk. Diet quality did not significantly differ between participants with and without ON risk. The findings suggest that nutrition education from DPD coursework may be protective against orthorexic behaviors and that diet alone may not be enough to determine ON prevalence. Further research should examine how ON should be characterized and diagnosed prior to determining its prevalence and associated factors. ON tendency within this population was high; therefore, it should help inform the field of dietetics on how to better address this matter within students.


Open Access



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