Screening for Eating Disorders

The purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are usually administered to people without current symptoms, but who may be at high risk for certain diseases or conditions.

Screening Guidelines

Currently, there are no national screening guidelines for eating disorders. However, the annual National Eating Disorders Screening Program is sponsored by a number of prestigious organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The Screening Program incorporates educational materials, a short screening questionnaire, and post-questionnaire follow up by a knowledgeable eating disorders counselor. Examples of questions from the screening questionnaire include:

  1. Are you terrified about being overweight?
  2. Have you gone on eating binges where you feel you may not be able to stop?
  3. Do you feel extremely guilty after eating?
  4. Do you vomit or have the impulse to vomit after meals?
  5. Do you feel that food controls your life?
(These questions are taken from the National Eating Disorders Screening Program website referenced above and are adapted from the Eating Attitudes Test [EAT-26], EAT© David M. Garner & Paul E. Garfinkel [1979], David M. Garner, et al. [1982].)


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Eating disorders warning signs. Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders, Inc. website. Available at: . Accessed April 12, 2007.

Favaro A, Santonastaso P. Construction and validation of a new screening questionnaires for eating disorders: the inventory for the screening of eating disorders/(ISED). Epidemiol Psychiatr Soc . 2000;9(1):26-35.

Kaplan DW, Blythe M, Diaz A, et al. Identifying and treating eating disorders: American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement. Pediatrics. 2003;111:204-211. Available at:;111/1/204.pdf . Accessed April 12, 2007.

McNulty KY, Adams CH, Anderson JM, Affenito SG. Development and validation of a screening tool to identify eating disorders in female athletes. J Am Diet Assoc. 2001;101(8):886-892.

National Eating Disorders Screening Program website. Available at: .

National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: .

Perry L, Morgan J, Reid F, et al. Screening for symptoms of eating disorders: reliability of the SCOFF screening tool with written compared to oral delivery. Int J Eat Disord . 2002;32(4):466-472.

Screening for Mental Health website. Available at: . Accessed April 12, 2007.

Last reviewed April 2007 by Janet Greenhut, MD, MPH

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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