Vegetarianism an Eating Disorder? Obsession With Being Thin Driving Many to Drop Meat

The trend in dropping food categories in exchange for being a vegetarian or vegan may have less to do with the love of animals and more to do with the obsession of being thin, according to a new study.

Othorexia is not a commonly heard condition. Othorexia nervosa is described as an obsession with eating healthy, which to many may not sound like a condition at all. But it is also described as a mental disease and its consequences can be equally as unhealthy as anorexia.

For this reason, some nutritionists are beginning to question the number of women who choose to be vegetarian or vegan. While many cite the abuse of animals, a healthier lifestyle, and the negative impacts on the environment as reasons for choosing a different lifestyle, a surprising number of women also believe that a stricter diet routine will help lessen their waistlines, based on a new study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Led by nutritionist Ramona Robinson-O'Brien, an assistant professor at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University in Minnesota, the study reveals that there is a strong correlation between women who have or have had an eating disorder, and women who choose to become a vegetarian.

"Going vegetarian can be another way to cut out a food category, or a number of food categories, if you become a vegan," Vanessa Kane-Alves, a registered dietician with Boston Children's Hospital's Eating Disorders Program, told The Huffington Post. "It makes it easier when people ask you questions about where those foods have gone. It's a more socially acceptable way to restrict foods."

The study revealed that 52 percent of women who suffered from an eating disorder at some point in their life had also attempted being vegetarian in comparison to only 12 percent of women who had never had a disorder.

It also showed that 68 percent of women who had suffered from an eating disorder believed that there was a relationship between their disorder and their decision to become a vegetarian. Of those who made a full recovery from having an eating disorder, only five percent remained vegetarian.