With 90% of American households regularly indulging in a sweet, frozen treat, it is no secret that over eating and having a high body weight are just a couple of the reasons so many take up the same New Year’s resolution: losing weight.
Unfortunately, only eight percent of Americans actually accomplish their New Year’s resolutions. However, recent research has shown that this may not be all too bad for our health after all.
The American Psychiatric Association warns that New Year’s resolutions could be a leading factor behind many Americans developing orthorexia. This eating pattern, while not officially recognized as an eating disorder or a different category of mental illness, is the fixation on eating healthy.
According to the APA, orthorexia is described as a “dietary pattern in which an individual restricts intake to include only ‘healthy’ foods, such as vegetables or organic foods, but in doing so develops significant problems, such as an obsession with food and severe weight loss.”
The association goes on to explain that while orthorexia starts off as a simple commitment to clean eating, this healthy behavior soon becomes chaotic. Although those who start eating healthier have good intentions, the APA is noticing more cases of orthorexia occurring as a result of the mainstream ideas surrounding healthy eating and fad diets.
“Veganism and clean eating have seen a surge in popularity in recent years,” the APA explains to Medical Daily. “The decisions to eat food that is closest to its natural state and/or not to eat animal products are not inherently problematic choices or cause for alarm. … It is when the need to eat ‘good’ foods becomes ‘extreme, obsessive, psychologically limiting and sometimes physically dangerous’ that it is disruptive to an otherwise healthy life.”
However, orthorexia is not widely understood, so those who suffer from it may be misdiagnosed. Its symptoms are similar to both anorexia and restrictive food intake disorder. Orthorexia is seen in those who already suffer from mental illnesses such as obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety.
While members of the medical community have pushed to have orthorexia classified as its own eating disorder, the idea is in dispute. Opponents believe orthorexia is too similar to the behaviors seen in bulimia, anorexia, and OCD to distinguish it as a new disorder.
Nevertheless, doctors believe the risks of orthorexia are everywhere. They note that gluten-free, dairy-free, and carbohydrate-free products are more popular than ever, even though dairy and gluten intolerance aren’t as prevalent. Plus, with celebrities bragging publicly about their juice cleanse diets, doctors warn the risk of developing orthorexia or any other eating disorder is all too possible.
Not only that, but a new study from Vanderbilt University found that consumers tended to only buy healthier food if it was more expensive. An additional study determined that if consumers had two similar food items and weren’t sure which was healthier, they’d choose the more expensive one.
This assumption that a higher cost equates to healthier food is false, researchers report. Associate professor Kelly Haws of Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management actually proved the opposite. She believes that despite theories, eating healthier doesn’t necessarily mean the food will cost more.
Haws explains to FOX 17 that studies show a healthy equals expensive bias when choosing food. In her studies, if a cheaper food was explained to be healthier, the consumer would spend more time researching the food and reading reviews.
As a result, Haws believes consumers on a budget are paying too much for their nutrition despite having the information that allows them to make budget-conscious decisions that are good for both their bodies and wallets.