Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Barrett, Sheila

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

School of Health Studies


Purpose and Objectives: While much is known about common eating disorders in undergraduate students in college, limited research is available on the prevalence of orthorexia nervosa (ON). Orthorexia nervosa is a fixation on righteous eating that typically stems from an attempt to diet or consume healthier foods and turns into an obsession with the quality and purity of food. This type of behavior can become extremely restrictive, damage mental and physical health, and may lead disruptions in daily life. Specifically, information is lacking on the prevalence of ON in health majors, how to classify this disorder, and how to treat ON.

Methods: This study used an online survey questionnaire and a yoga intervention. The survey used the ORT-15, the OCI-R, and a survey item assessing whether or not students recognize unhealthy eating patterns within themselves. The study also incorporated yoga classes from Northern Illinois University’s Recreation Center and university-wide yoga courses for the intervention. Students who participated in yoga on campus were asked to take the survey at the beginning of the semester and again at the end of the semester.

Results: A majority of the participants were female (n=109) and the mean age was 21.2927 ± 3.072. Using the ORTO-15, the study found no significant effect of health major status on ON (p > 0.05) and no significant effect of health career status (p > 0.05) on ON. Furthermore, there was no significant effect for participant awareness of their eating behaviors (p > 0.05). The study did not find any significant relationship between the ORTO-15 scores and the OCI-R scores (p > 0.05). Lastly, the study found no effect of using yoga as an intervention on ON (p > 0.05).

Conclusion: No significant difference was found in regards to the prevalence of ON in health majors compared to non-health majors, which indicates that ON is prevalent in a diverse population. Furthermore, there was no relationship between ON and OCD. Lastly, no significant effect of regular attendance of yoga classes was observed in reducing orthorexic tendencies. More research is necessary to define what population is afflicted by this disorder, further advance the literature on ON and OCD, and to determine appropriate interventions for those with ON.


96 pages




Northern Illinois University

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