The connection between exercise addiction and orthorexia nervosa in German fitness sports

  • Sabrina RudolphEmail author
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Orthorexia Nervosa



The combination of physical activity and healthy eating habits has potentially positive effects on health. However, both practices can also lead to pathological behaviors such as exercise addiction (EA) and orthorexia nervosa (ON), thus generating negative effects. So far, studies analyzing the connection between these two phenomena cannot be found. The current paper is aiming to close this gap.


The sample (n = 1.008) consisted of 559 male and 449 female active members of three fitness studios, and was analyzed in a cross-sectional study design. The Exercise Addiction Inventory (EAI) was used to establish exercise addiction and the Düsseldorfer Orthorexie Skala (DOS) was used to evaluate orthorectic eating behavior.


Out of the whole sample, 10.2% exhibit EA, while ON is prevalent in 3.4%. Twenty-three (2.3%) individuals suffer from both. There is a significant positive correlation between DOS and EAI (p < .001, r = .421). Female participants (p < .001, r = .452) show a higher correlation compared to male participants (p < .001, r = .418).


The results suggest a positive correlation between ON and EA in the context of German fitness sports. Both seem to be serious phenomena and require further investigation.

Level of evidence

Level V (cross-sectional descriptive study).


Orthorexia nervosa Exercise addiction Fitness sport Düsseldorfer orthorexie skala Exercise addiction inventory 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by the author.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für SportwissenschaftenUniversität GöttingenGöttingenGermany

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