by Linn Håman, Natalie Barker-Ruchti, Göran PatrikssonEva-Carin Lindgren

Vol. 7 2016, pages 27–46
Published March 30, 2016


This study explored and elucidated how orthorexia is framed in Swedish daily newspapers with a focus on characteristics of orthorexia. Key questions include: 1) how do the newspaper articles connect exercise with orthorexia? and 2) what trends in depicting exercise in relation to orthorexia do the newspaper articles represent over time? The method used was a longitudinal qualitative content analysis guided by the framing theory. We analyzed 166 articles published between 1998 and 2013. Our analysis revealed that orthorexia originally was framed as an eating disorder and subsequently included unhealthy exercise. Two trend shifts could be identified: in 2004, exercise was added as an element and in 2013 extreme exercise trends were described to influence the increase of orthorexia. The findings indicate that Swedish newspapers extend Bratman’s definition and depict orthorexia indiscriminately to describe a range of different behavioral characteristics. These results are discussed in terms of the idea of “healthism” and general health trends in society.

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About the Authors

LINN HÅMAN is a lecturer at School of Health and Welfare, Halmstad University, Sweden. She received her PhD in 2016 with the thesis “Extreme pursuit of health: An explorative study of orthorexia nervosa”. Her dissertation deals with how orthorexia nervosa is described, understood and reported. Current research interests concern personal trainers’ view of healthy/unhealthy practices in the fitness gym.

NATALIE BARKER-RUCHTI is Associate Professor in Sports Coaching at the Department of Food and Nutrition, and Sport Science at the University of Gothenburg. Her research interests lie in understanding how sport coaches and coaching affect athlete learning, identity and wellbeing, in particular in high-performance settings. Critical sociology is important to her and in a project linking sport and adolescents with immigration backgrounds, she has employed the concept of healthism.

GÖRAN PATRIKSSON is professor at the Department of Food and Nutrition, and Sport Science, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. He has carried out a large amount of research in the sport area for more than forty years. Among the topics covered are studies of socialisation into, through and out of youth sports. He has conducted several investigations of physical education (PE) teaching in Sweden and other countries in and outside of Europe. Another interest concerns careers in elite sports, especially career endings. Göran has done many evaluations of large governmental projects aiming to increase physical activity among children and young people.

EVA-CARIN LINDGREN is Associate Professor at the Department of Food and Nutrition, and Sport Science, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. She has conducted both qualitative and intervention studies in the areas of health promotion (physical activity, body and empowerment) in school settings and sports. Her current research interests also focus on how coaches express their construction of children’s team sports and how children talk about sport from a child’s perspective, how sport clubs and coaches maximise participation of children and youths from an intersectional perspective, and the learning and career paths of top-level female football coaches.