Prevalence and utility of DSM-IV eating disorder diagnostic criteria among youth


  • Parts of this manuscript were presented at the 10th Annual Meeting of the Eating Disorders Research Society, Toronto, Canada, September 29–October 1, 2005.



To examine the prevalence and utility of DSM-IV eating disorder (ED) criteria and anorexia (AN), bulimia (BN), and binge eating disorder (BED) among adolescents.


An ethnically diverse population-based sample of 4,746 public middle and high school students completed anthropometric measures and Project EAT survey items.


Many youth endorsed body shape perception disturbance (41.5% female; 24.9% male), undue influence of body shape/weight on self-esteem (36.4% female; 23.9% male), and compensatory behavior (9.4% female; 13.5% male). Prevalence among females and males, respectively, was: AN = 0.04%, 0%; BN = 0.3%, 0.2%; BED = 1.9%, 0.3%. Analyses of individual criteria showed high sensitivity and negative predictive values for each disorder and corresponding criteria, low specificity for several AN (27.8%) and BN (32.0%) criteria, and low positive predictive values (0.06–40.2%).


Body disparagement and compensatory behaviors indicate eating disturbance, despite low prevalence of EDs. Diagnostic classification may be clinically useful, but is complicated for use in epidemiological populations. © 2007 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2007.