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Understanding Eating Disorder Assessment Tools


The purpose of screening for eating disorders is to help individuals receive the correct diagnoses and treatments. With so many different health trends and dietary requirements concerning eating disorders, it can be challenging to tell what’s healthy and what may signal a more serious issue. It’s not always easy to spot an eating disorder since they’re not always associated with low weight or dieting behaviors. Eating disorder assessment tools and questionnaires can help identify signs and symptoms that indicate a person has an eating disorder and aid them in finding the appropriate eating disorder support.   

The Different Kinds of Eating Disorder Screening Tools  

Eating disorders are complex mental health disorders associated with severe disturbances in eating behaviors and related thoughts and emotions. Preoccupation with food, weight, and body shape may signal an eating disorder, among other common signs and symptoms. Body dysmorphia, maladaptive coping behaviors, and/or the need for control are typical characteristics of many eating disorders that are frequently overlooked and difficult to identify.  

Many eating disorders can be deadly, but early recognition can provide the opportunity for intervention before more severe consequences take place. Below are some common screening tools for eating disorders used to identify and diagnose individuals with eating disorders and offer them the foundation for receiving eating disorder treatment 

Eating Attitudes Test 

The Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26) is a 26-question eating disorder screening tool. Arguably one of the most widely used eating disorder assessment tools in the nation, EAT-26 is broken up into three parts: body mass index measurement (which is optional), questions related to the frequency in which the individual engaged in certain behaviors, and questions related to behaviors like self-induced vomiting. These parts are further broken up into several categories, which can be better understood as distorted body image, body weight, bulimic behavior, and self-control.  

Individuals who score 20 or more should be interviewed by a qualified professional to determine if they meet the diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder. Even those who score lower than 20 on the test may still have a serious problem. For this reason, if there’s any suspicion, it never hurts to complete further assessment. 

Eating Disorder Examination 

The Eating Disorder Examination (EDE) is an eating disorder assessment tool that reflects the current DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for eating disorders. It’s also available in The Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q), with both being considered gold-standard assessments for eating disorders.  

Examinations and questionnaires are administered differently. The EDE is delivered by a clinician, such as a psychiatrist, in an interview-style appointment. The difference is the EDE-Q can be completed by a patient on their own or with a clinician nearby to answer any questions. Both types of eating disorder assessment tools include four categories related to eating disorder symptoms.  

These categories include concerns with restraint, eating, shape, and weight. This screening tool also asks questions about eating disorder behaviors, such as self-induced vomiting or excessive exercise. This information can help clinicians provide a clearer diagnosis and refer to the correct form of treatment.  

Eating Disorder Screening for Primary Care (ESP) 

Eating Disorder Screening for Primary Care (ESP) is a questionnaire made up of five questions taken from other forms. It’s a quick-and-easy tool that doctors can use in general practice to get an idea of whether a patient may have an eating disorder. The ESP asks about eating behaviors and whether the individual has a personal or family history of eating disorders. This tool should always be followed up by a full psychological assessment, as it’s only designed to alert someone to a potential eating disorder.  

Questionnaire for Eating Disorder Diagnosis 

The Questionnaire for Eating Disorder Diagnosis (Q-EDD) was designed to capture whether an individual meets the diagnostic criteria for eating disorders included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), 4th edition. While this test has been considered to be accurate since the DSM-5 came out in 2013, the Q-EDD for eating disorder screening may fail to capture more currently recognized eating disorders and symptoms.  

The SCOFF Questionnaire 

The SCOFF Questionnaire is a short and easy-to-use eating disorder screening tool designed to assess anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. This eating disorders questionnaire asks five questions related to self-control, weight loss, body image, and the role of food in the individual’s life. The SCOFF Questionnaire contains questions that are scored one point for “yes” answers and zero points for “no” answers, resulting in an integer at the end of the form. Receiving two points or more on the SCOFF Questionnaire suggests an eating disorder. While it shouldn’t be used on its own, this questionnaire can alert the individual and their loved ones to a potential problem.   

Importance of Eating Disorder Screening   

Screening for eating disorders can help healthcare professionals identify the difference between healthy behavior and a serious disorder that requires treatment. Screening for these disorders can ensure the individual becomes aware of their condition, is referred to the appropriate form of care, and begins their recovery. Getting the correct diagnosis is especially important for determining the best route for treatment.   

It's also important to note that while these assessments prove useful in helping doctors identify whether an individual has an eating disorder, they do not replace formal clinical assessments. In other words, if you take one of these questionnaires and believe you may have an eating disorder, your next step should be to visit a doctor.  

Finding Eating Disorder Therapy Near Me 

Banyan Treatment Centers offers Philadelphia eating disorder treatment for disorders like anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and others. Through the use of evidence-based practices like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and the efforts of our specialists and nutritionists, we can help you or a loved one recover.  

For more information about our Philadelphia eating disorder clinic and services, call Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763 or send us your contact information, and we’ll reach out to you. 


Related Reading:   

Eating Disorders in Men 

What Is Lanugo in Anorexia Nervosa? 


If you or a loved one is suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction, family therapy will contribute to long-term recovery. Contact Banyan Treatment Center in Philadelphia today. We can help you and your family truly recover. Call our treatment center today at 888-280-4763 for more information on how we can guide you through recovery.

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.