Orthorexia nervosa (also known as orthorexia) (ON) is a proposed eating disorder characterized by an excessive preoccupation with eating healthy food. The term was introduced in 1997 by American physician Steven Bratman, M.D. He suggested that some people's dietary restrictions intended to promote health may paradoxically lead to unhealthy consequences, such as social isolation; anxiety; loss of ability to eat in a natural, intuitive manner; reduced interest in the full range of other healthy human activities; and, in rare cases, severe malnutrition or even death.
In 2009, Ursula Philpot, chair of the British Dietetic Association and senior lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University, described people with orthorexia nervosa as being "solely concerned with the quality of the food they put in their bodies, refining and restricting their diets according to their personal understanding of which foods are truly 'pure'." This differs from other eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, where those affected focus on the quantity of food eaten.
Orthorexia nervosa also differs from anorexia nervosa in that it does not disproportionally affect one gender. Studies have found that orthorexia nervosa is equally found in both men and women with no significant gender differences at all. Furthermore, research has found significant positive correlations between orthorexia nervosa and both narcissism and perfectionism, but no significant correlation between orthorexia nervosa and self esteem. This shows that intense orthorexia nervosa individuals likely take pride over their healthy eating habits over others and that is the driving force behind their orthorexia as opposed to body image like anorexia.
Orthorexia nervosa is not recognized as an eating disorder by the American Psychiatric Association, and so is not mentioned as an official diagnosis in the widely used Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).