The purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are usually given to people without current symptoms, but who may be at high risk for certain diseases or conditions.
Although doctors usually ask about eating and exercise during exams, 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. The 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:
- Are you terrified about being overweight?
- Have you gone on eating binges where you feel you may not be able to stop?
- Do you feel extremely guilty after eating?
- Do you vomit or have the impulse to vomit after meals?
- Do you feel that food controls your life?
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Rapid screening for disordered eating in college-aged females in the primary care setting.
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Eating disorders. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at:
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/eating-disorders/index.shtml. Updated 2011. Accessed July 11, 2013.
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;9:26-35.
Kaplan DW, Blythe M, et al. Identifying and treating eating disorders: American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement.
McNulty KY, Adams CH, et al.
Development and validation of a screening tool to identify eating disorders in female athletes.
J Am Diet Assoc.
National Eating Disorders Screening Program. Screening for Mental Health website. Available at:
http://www.mentalhealthscreening.org/events/national-eating-disorder-screening-program.aspx. Accessed July 11, 2013.
Perry L, Morgan J, 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;32:466-472.
Last reviewed July 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
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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