Online Program

Too concerned with health? The medicalization of "healthy" nutrition

Monday, November 2, 2015

Paul Kadetz, PhD, MPH, MSN, Department of Public Health, Marshall University, Huntington, WV
Maria Madland, Bsc, Leiden University College, Thje Hague, Netherlands
People’s food and eating habits are increasingly being driven by social forces producing anxiety. Health promotional discourses frequently appear as the focal point in media, emphasizing how food affects one’s health. Much attention has been placed on the problems of modern industrial food production, including the use of recent biotechnologies, such as the addition of genetically modified organisms in food, and how such practices might affect health. Consequently, individuals are placed with the burden to make the correct dietary choices to promote health. However, mental health practitioners in Europe have identified a new eating disorder resulting from an excessive concern of healthy eating tentatively labelled Orthorexia Nervosa. This research, consisting of structured and semi-structured interviews with mental health and nutritional practitioners and lay informants in Norway attempts to distinguish if and how dietary practices that aim for optimal health are being constructed as an eating disorder by the mental health community in Norway. This research finds that though mental health practitioners are careful to not diagnose their patients under the label of Orthorexia Nervosa, certain aspects of concern with healthy diets are being categorised and treated as an eating disorder akin to Anorexia Nervosa.

Learning Areas:

Clinical medicine applied in public health
Diversity and culture
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify the new disease category of Orthorexia Nervosa. Critically examine if the extent of concern with healthy nutrition has been medicalized.

Keyword(s): Nutrition, Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I supervised the research and am co-authoring a published version of this research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.