Orthorexia nervosa and Instagram: exploring the Russian-speaking conversation around #opтopeкcия

Yana Zemlyanskaya*, Martina Valente, Elena V. Syurina

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This mixed-methods study explored the conversation around orthorexia nervosa (ON) on Instagram from a Russian-speaking perspective. Two quantitative data sources were implemented; a comparative content analysis of posts tagged with #opтopeкcия (n = 234) and #orthorexia (n = 243), and an online questionnaire completed by Russian-speakers (n = 96) sharing ON-related content on Instagram. Additionally, five questionnaire participants were interviewed, four of which identified with having (had) ON. Russian-speakers who share ON-related content on Instagram are primarily female, around their late-twenties, and prefer Instagram over other platforms. They describe people with ON as obsessed with correct eating, rather than healthy or clean eating. Instagram appears to have a dual effect; it has the potential to both trigger the onset of ON and encourage recovery. Positive content encourages a healthy relationship with food, promotes intuitive eating, and spread recovery advice. Harmful content, in turn, emphasizes specific diet and beauty ideals. Russian-speaking users mainly post pictures of food, followed by largely informative text that explains what ON is, and what recovery may look like. Their reasons for posting ON-related content are to share personal experiences, support others in recovery, and raise awareness about ON. Two main target audiences were people unaware of ON and people seeking recovery support. The relationship between ON and social media is not strictly limited to the global north. Thus, it may be valuable to further investigate non-English-speaking populations currently underrepresented in ON research. Level of evidence: Level V, descriptive study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1011-1020
Number of pages10
JournalEating and Weight Disorders
Issue number3
Early online date14 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
No funds, grants, or other support was received.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Cross-cultural
  • Eating disorder
  • Instagram
  • Orthorexia nervosa
  • Russian-speaking
  • Social media


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