Nav: Home

Is 'clean eating' just dirty rhetoric?

June 03, 2019

(Carlisle, Pa.) - New research published today in the Journal of Eating Disorders finds "clean eating" is perceived as overwhelmingly positive by young people, but those optimistic impressions of "clean diets" may signal a risk for eating disorders. Scientists are also calling for additional research to better understand the nature of the "clean eating" diet fad.

Suman Ambwani, a noted scholar in the field of disordered eating and associate professor of psychology at Dickinson College, and a team of researchers, asked nearly 150 college students to define "clean eating." The students also were asked to read five vignettes featuring different "clean" diets and rate whether they thought the diets were "healthy," reflected "clean eating" and whether they might try them out. The subjects' responses varied, but overwhelmingly favored "clean eating," even if the so-called "clean" diets caused problems in work, social and emotional functioning.

"It is concerning that our respondents had positive attitudes toward extreme 'clean eating' diets that cause distress and disruption," said Ambwani. "We know dieting can create an increased risk for developing eating disorders, so we need to better understand how ostensibly healthy diets may devolve into disordered eating."

Definitions of "clean eating" typically include elements such as eating local, "real," organic, plant-based, home-cooked foods, but frequently also tout more extreme strategies, like eliminating gluten, grains or dairy. Trendy, "clean eating" diets are often highlighted on social and popular media, typically by nonexpert celebrities, but there is no scientific consensus around what constitutes "clean eating."

The study's results "highlight the need to train consumers to better distinguish between trustworthy and fraudulent sources of information on nutrition and health behaviors," said Ambwani. "'Clean eating' also appears to bestow an element of moral superiority," she noted. "It can also signify status and is importantly linked with health-related attitudes and behaviors."
-end-
About Dickinson College

Dickinson is a nationally recognized liberal-arts college chartered in 1783 in Carlisle, Pa. The highly selective college is home to 2,400 students from across the nation and around the world. Defining characteristics of a Dickinson education include a focus on global education?at home and abroad?and study of the environment and sustainability, which is integrated into the curriculum and the campus and exemplifies the college's commitment to providing an education for the common good. http://www.dickinson.edu

Dickinson College

Related Eating Disorders Articles:

College students access eating disorders therapy via phone app
Studying college women with eating disorders, a team led by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St.
Research reveals toll of pandemic on those with eating disorders
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a profound, negative impact on nine out of ten people with experience of eating disorders, a new study from Northumbria University, Newcastle, reveals.
Does posting edited self photos on social media increase risk of eating disorders?
New research published in International Journal Eating Disorders revealed a consistent and direct link between posting edited photos on Instagram and risk factors for eating disorders.
Face up to eating disorders, and seek help
A new study has found young people are leaving it 'too late' to seek help for eating disorders, citing fear of losing control over their eating or weight, denial, and failure to perceive the severity of the illness as reasons not to get professional advice.
Excessive sports in case of eating disorders: Psychological mechanisms decoded
Excessive and obsessive exercise is very harmful to health, particularly for persons suffering from eating disorders.
Helping patients with binge eating disorders: There's an app for that
Study suggests that adaptation of smartphone technology is a scalable option that significantly improves clinical outcomes.
Eating disorders linked to exercise addiction
New research shows that exercise addiction is nearly four times more common amongst people with an eating disorder.
Focus on teenage anxiety may aid early identification of those at risk of eating disorders
Teenage girls who experience clinical levels of anxiety could be at greater risk of eating disorders, according to associations identified in a study completed by researchers at the University of Bristol with UCL.
Pregnant women with eating disorders and their children run higher risk of complications
Pregnant women with eating disorders should undergo extended pregnancy screenings considering their increased risk of complications.
Dementia and eating disorders: it is a problem of (semantic) memory
Eating disorders shown by patients with dementia are characterised by a vast range of behaviours that span from preference for sugary foods, binges, increase in appetite, to changes in table manners or in food preferences.
More Eating Disorders News and Eating Disorders Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: IRL Online
Original broadcast date: March 20, 2020. Our online lives are now entirely interwoven with our real lives. But the laws that govern real life don't apply online. This hour, TED speakers explore rules to navigate this vast virtual space.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#574 State of the Heart
This week we focus on heart disease, heart failure, what blood pressure is and why it's bad when it's high. Host Rachelle Saunders talks with physician, clinical researcher, and writer Haider Warraich about his book "State of the Heart: Exploring the History, Science, and Future of Cardiac Disease" and the ails of our hearts.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Falling
There are so many ways to fall–in love, asleep, even flat on your face. This hour, Radiolab dives into stories of great falls.  We jump into a black hole, take a trip over Niagara Falls, upend some myths about falling cats, and plunge into our favorite songs about falling. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.