This research explored whether orthorexia nervosa is associated with deficits in executive function.
Participants ( n = 405; 80% women, 53% White, mean age = 24, mean body mass index = 25) completed the Orthorexia Nervosa Inventory (ONI) and the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function—Adult version (BRIEF-A).
ONI scores were significantly correlated with all BRIEF-A scales, exhibiting the strongest correlations with the scales assessing behavioral regulation: Set Shifting, Inhibition, Emotional Control, and Self-Monitoring. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that these relationships remained significant after controlling for demographic variables (e.g., gender, body mass index, age, education level) and diagnoses of an eating disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism, and learning disability.
These findings suggest that, despite unique manifestations, orthorexia and anorexia may possess an overlapping neuropsychological profile marked by deficits in executive function, which may negatively impact daily life.
Level of evidence
Level V, descriptive cross-sectional study