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There has been increasing interest in identifying individuals with pathological healthy eating behaviours, or orthorexia nervosa (ON). This study aimed to investigate the validity (construct- and criterion-related) and reliability (internal consistency) of the Eating Habits Questionnaire (EHQ) as a measure of ON. A secondary aim was to examine how the EHQ would predict a distinct feature of ON, adequate dietary intake.
Cross-sectional online questionnaire incorporating existing measures of ON and dietary intake.
Participants were recruited online via social media and a university’s research webpage.
Women (n 286) ranging in age from 17 to 73 years.
Exploratory factor analysis established that the EHQ represented four ON dimensions (Healthy Eating Cognitions, Dietary Restriction, Diet Superiority and Social Impairment), inconsistent with the scale’s original three dimensions (Problems, Knowledge and Feelings). Cronbach’s α coefficients ranged from 0·72 to 0·80 for the four subscales and was 0·89 for the total EHQ scale. Criterion-related validity revealed a significant moderate to strong correlation (r = −0·54, P < 0·001) between the EHQ and ORTO-10 (a ten-item version of ORTO-15). The EHQ, particularly the EHQ–Diet superiority subscale, was found to be predictive of better, as opposed to, poorer dietary adequacy.
Findings suggest that improvements still need to be made to the EHQ for it to be a valid and reliable measure of ON. Ideally, new assessment tools based on established diagnostic criteria are needed to advance our understanding of ON.
Globally, grandparents are the main informal childcare providers with one-quarter of children aged ≤5 years regularly cared for by grandparents in Australia, the UK and USA. Research is conflicting; many studies claim grandparents provide excessive amounts of discretionary foods (e.g. high in fat/sugar/sodium) while others suggest grandparents can positively influence children’s diet behaviours. The present study aimed to explore the meaning and role of food treats among grandparents who provide regular informal care of young grandchildren.
Qualitative methodology utilising a grounded theory approach. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews and focus groups, then thematically analysed.
Participants were recruited through libraries, churches and playgroups in South Australia.
Grandparents (n 12) caring for grandchild/ren aged 1–5 years for 10 h/week or more.
Three themes emerged: (i) the functional role of treats (e.g. to reward good behaviour); (ii) grandparent role, responsibility and identity (e.g. the belief that grandparent and parent roles differ); and (iii) the rules regarding food treats (e.g. negotiating differences between own and parental rules). Grandparents favoured core-food over discretionary-food treats. They considered the risks (e.g. dental caries) and rewards (e.g. pleasure) of food treats and balanced their wishes with those of their grandchildren and parents.
Food treats play an important role in the grandparent–grandchild relationship and are used judiciously by grandparents to differentiate their identity and relationship from parents and other family members. This research offers an alternative narrative to the dominant discourse regarding grandparents spoiling grandchildren with excessive amounts of discretionary foods.
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