What is the Eating Disorder Diagnostic Scale?

Introduction

The Eating Disorder Diagnostic Scale (EDDS) is a 22 item self-report questionnaire that assesses the presence of three eating disorders; anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder.

Outline

It was adapted by Stice et al. in 2000 from the validated structured psychiatric interview: The Eating Disorder Examination (EDE) and the eating disorder module of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID)16.

A study was made to complete the EDDS research; the process to create and finalise the questionnaire. A group of people eating-disorders researchers take a looked at a preliminary version of the questionnaire and made a final decision of which questions to put on the final questionnaire with the 22 questions.

  • The questionnaire starts off with questions about the patient’s feelings towards his/her physical appearance, specifically the weight.
  • Then, it proceeds to questions about having episodes of eating with a loss of control and how he/she felt after overeating.
  • The questions afterwards are about the patient’s experience on fasting, making themselves vomit and using laxatives to prevent weight gain.
  • It will then ask you how much body image problems impact your relationship and friendship with others.
  • Lastly, the questionnaire asks for the patient’s current weight, height, sex and age.

The EDDS questionnaire is used for researchers to provide some cures for the three types of eating disorder. It is more efficient than having an interview because it’s easier to get a result, from a group of participants, with the 22-questions questionnaire. Having to interview each participant is a harder and more time-consuming way to get a result. This questionnaire is also useful for primary care/ clinical purposes to identify patients with eating pathology.

In follow up studies of the reliability and validity of the EDDS, it was shown to be sufficiently sensitive to detect the effects of eating disorders prevention programs, response to such programs and the future onset of eating disorder pathology and depression. The EDDS shows both full and subthreshold diagnoses for anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. EDDS is a continuous eating disorder symptom composite score. The PhenX Toolkit uses the EDDS for as an Eating Disorders Screener protocol.

Refer to:

What is an Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder?

Introduction

Other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED) is a DSM-5 category that, along with unspecified feeding or eating disorder (UFED), replaces the category formerly called eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS) in the DSM-IV-TR.

It captures feeding disorders and eating disorders of clinical severity that do not meet diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), binge eating disorder (BED), avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), pica, or rumination disorder.

OSFED includes five examples:

  1. Atypical anorexia nervosa.
  2. Atypical bulimia nervosa of low frequency and/or limited duration.
  3. Binge eating disorder of low frequency and/or limited duration.
  4. Purging disorder.
  5. Night eating syndrome (NES).

Brief History

In 1980, DSM-III was the first DSM to include a category for eating disorders that could not be classified in the categories of AN, BN, or pica. This category was called Atypical Eating Disorder. Atypical Eating Disorder was described in one sentence in the DSM-III and received very little attention in the literature, as it was perceived to be uncommon compared to the other defined eating disorders. In DSM-III-R, published in 1987, the Atypical Eating Disorder category became known as Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS). DSM-III-R included examples of individuals who would meet criteria for EDNOS, in part to acknowledge the increasingly recognized heterogeneity of individuals within the diagnostic category.

In 1994, DSM-IV was published and expanded EDNOS to include six clinical presentations. These presentations included individuals who:

  • Met criteria for AN, but continued to menstruate;
  • Met criteria for AN, but still had weight in the normal range despite significant weight loss;
  • Met criteria for BN but did not meet frequency criterion for binge eating or purging;
  • Engaged in inappropriate compensatory behaviour after eating small amounts of food; or
  • Repeatedly chewed or spit out food, or who binged on food but did not subsequently purge.

A disadvantage of DSM-IV’s broad EDNOS category was that people with very different symptoms were still classified as having the same diagnosis, making it difficult to access care specific to the disorder and conduct research on the diversity of pathology within EDNOS. Furthermore, EDNOS was perceived as less severe than AN or BN, despite findings that individuals diagnosed with EDNOS share similarities with full-threshold AN or BN in the degree of eating pathology, general psychopathology, and physical health. This perception prevented people in need from seeking help or insurance companies from covering treatment costs. DSM-5, published in 2013, sought to address these issues by adding new diagnoses and revising existing criteria.

Epidemiology

Few studies to date have examined OSFED prevalence. The largest community study is by Stice (2013), who examined 496 adolescent females who completed annual diagnostic interviews over 8 years. Lifetime prevalence by age 20 for OSFED overall was 11.5%. 2.8% had atypical AN, 4.4% had subthreshold BN, 3.6% had subthreshold BED, and 3.4% had purging disorder. Peak age of onset for OSFED was 18-20 years. NES was not assessed in this study, but estimates from other studies suggest that it presents in 1% of the general population.

A few studies have compared the prevalence of EDNOS and OSFED and found that though the prevalence of atypical eating disorders decreased with the new classification system, the prevalence still remains high. For example, in a population of 215 young patients presenting for ED treatment, the diagnosis of EDNOS to OSFED decreased from 62.3% to 32.6%. In another study of 240 females in the US with a lifetime history of an eating disorder, the prevalence changed from 67.9% EDNOS to 53.3% OSFED. Although the prevalence appears to reduce when using the categorisations of EDNOS vs. OSFED, a high proportion of cases still receive diagnoses of atypical eating disorders, which creates difficulties in communication, treatment planning, and basic research.

Classification

The five OSFED examples that can be considered eating disorders include atypical AN, BN (of low frequency and/or limited duration), BED (of low frequency and/or limited duration), purging disorder, and NES. Of note, OSFED is not limited to these five examples, and can include individuals with heterogeneous eating disorder presentations (i.e. OSFED-other). Another term, UFED, is used to describe individuals for whom full diagnostic criteria are not met but the reason remains unspecified or the clinician does not have adequate information to make a more definitive diagnosis.

Atypical Anorexia NervosaIn atypical AN, individuals meet all of the criteria for AN, with the exception of the weight criterion: the individual’s weight remains within or above the normal range, despite significant weight loss.
Atypical Bulimia NervosaIn this sub-threshold version of BN, individuals meet all criteria for BN, with the exception of the frequency criterion: binge eating and inappropriate compensatory behaviours occur, on average, less than once a week and/or for fewer than 3 months.
Binge Eating Disorder of Low Frequency and/or Limited DurationIn this sub-threshold version of BED, individuals must meet all criteria for BED, with the exception of the frequency criterion: binge eating occurs, on average, less than once a week and/or for fewer than 3 months.
Purging DisorderIn purging disorder, purging behaviour aimed to influence weight or shape is present, but in the absence of binge eating.
Night Eating SyndromeIn NES, individuals have recurrent episodes of eating at night, such as eating after awakening from sleep or excess calorie intake after the evening meal. This eating behaviour is not culturally acceptable by group norms, such as the occasional late-night munchies after a gathering. NES includes an awareness and recall of the eating, is not better explained by external influences such as changes in the individual’s sleep-wake cycle, and causes significant distress and/or impairment of functioning.

Though not defined specifically in DSM-5, research criteria for this diagnosis proposed adding the following criteria (1) the consumption of at least 25% of daily caloric intake after the evening meal and/or (2) evening awakenings with ingestions at least twice per week.

Treatment

Few studies guide the treatment of individuals with OSFED. However, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which focuses on the interplay between thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, has been shown to be the leading evidence-based treatment for the eating disorders of BN and BED. For OSFED, a particular cognitive behavioural treatment can be used called CBT-Enhanced (CBT-E), which was designed to treat all forms of eating disorders. This method focuses not only what is thought to be the central cognitive disturbance in eating disorders (i.e. over-evaluation of eating, shape, and weight), but also on modifying the mechanisms that sustain eating disorder psychopathology, such as perfectionism, core low self-esteem, mood intolerance, and interpersonal difficulties. CBT-E showed effectiveness in two studies (total N = 219) and well maintained over 60-week follow-up periods. CBT-E is not specific to individual types of eating disorders but is based on the concept that common mechanisms are involved in the persistence of atypical eating disorders, AN, and BN.

What is Binge Eating Disorder?

Introduction

Binge eating disorder (BED) is an eating disorder characterised by frequent and recurrent binge eating episodes with associated negative psychological and social problems, but without the compensatory behaviours common to Bulimia Nervosa, OSFED, or the Binge-Purge subtype of Anorexia Nervosa.

BED is a recently described condition, which was required to distinguish binge eating similar to that seen in bulimia nervosa but without characteristic purging. Individuals who are diagnosed with bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder exhibit similar patterns of compulsive overeating, neurobiological features of dysfunctional cognitive control and food addiction, and biological and environmental risk factors. Some professionals consider BED to be a milder form of bulimia with the two conditions on the same spectrum.

Binge eating is one of the most prevalent eating disorders among adults, though there tends to be less media coverage and research about the disorder in comparison to anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

Brief History

The disorder was first described in 1959 by psychiatrist and researcher Albert Stunkard as “night eating syndrome” (NES). The term “binge eating” was coined to describe the same bingeing-type eating behaviour but without the exclusive nocturnal component.

There is generally less research on binge eating disorder in comparison to anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

Signs and Symptoms

Binge eating is the core symptom of BED; however, not everyone who binge eats has BED. An individual may occasionally binge eat without experiencing many of the negative physical, psychological, or social effects of BED. This may be considered disordered eating rather than a clinical disorder. Precisely defining binge eating can be problematic, however binge eating episodes in BED are generally described as having the following potential features:

  • Eating much faster than normal, perhaps in a short space of time.
  • Eating until feeling uncomfortably full.
  • Eating a large amount when not hungry.
  • Subjective loss of control over how much or what is eaten.
  • Binges may be planned in advance, involving the purchase of special binge foods, and the allocation of specific time for binging, sometimes at night.
  • Eating alone or secretly due to embarrassment over the amount of food consumed.
  • There may be a dazed mental state during the binge.
  • Not being able to remember what was eaten after the binge.
  • Feelings of guilt, shame or disgust following a food binge.

In contrast to bulimia nervosa, binge eating episodes are not regularly followed by activities intended to compensate for the amount of food consumed, such as self-induced vomiting, laxative or enema misuse, or strenuous exercise. BED is characterised more by overeating than dietary restriction. Those with BED often have poor body image and frequently diet, but are unsuccessful due to the severity of their binge eating.

Obesity is common in persons with BED, as is depression, low self-esteem, stress and boredom. Those with BED are also at risk of Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, menstrual irregularities such as amenorrhea, and gastrointestinal problems such as acid reflux and heartburn.

Causes

As with other eating disorders, binge eating is an “expressive disorder” – a disorder that is an expression of deeper psychological problems. People who have binge eating disorder have been found to have higher weight bias internalisation, which includes low self-esteem, unhealthy eating patterns, and general body dissatisfaction. Binge eating disorder commonly develops as a result or side effect of depression, as it is common for people to turn to comfort foods when they are feeling down.

There was resistance to give binge eating disorder the status of a fully fledged eating disorder because many perceived binge eating disorder to be caused by individual choices. Previous research has focused on the relationship between body image and eating disorders, and concludes that disordered eating might be linked to rigid dieting practices. In the majority of cases of anorexia, extreme and inflexible restriction of dietary intake leads at some point to the development of binge eating, weight regain, bulimia nervosa, or a mixed form of eating disorder not otherwise specified. Binge eating may begin when individuals recover from an adoption of rigid eating habits. When under a strict diet that mimics the effects of starvation, the body may be preparing for a new type of behaviour pattern, one that consumes a large amount of food in a relatively short period of time.

Some studies show that BED aggregates in families and could be genetic. However, very few published studies around the genetics exist.

However, other research suggests that binge eating disorder can also be caused by environmental factors and the impact of traumatic events. One study showed that women with binge eating disorder experienced more adverse life events in the year prior to the onset of the development of the disorder, and that binge eating disorder was positively associated with how frequently negative events occur. Additionally, the research found that individuals who had binge eating disorder were more likely to have experienced physical abuse, perceived risk of physical abuse, stress, and body criticism. Other risk factors may include childhood obesity, critical comments about weight, low self-esteem, depression, and physical or sexual abuse in childhood. A systematic review concluded that bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder are more impacted by family separations, a loss in their lives and negative parent-child interactions compared to those with anorexia nervosa. A few studies have suggested that there could be a genetic component to binge eating disorder, though other studies have shown more ambiguous results. Studies have shown that binge eating tends to run in families and a twin study by Bulik, Sullivan, and Kendler has shown a, “moderate heritability for binge eating” at 41%. More research must be done before any firm conclusions can be drawn regarding the heritability of binge eating disorder. Studies have also shown that eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia reduce coping abilities, which makes it more likely for those suffering to turn to binge eating as a coping strategy.

A correlation between dietary restraint and the occurrence of binge eating has been shown in some research. While binge eaters are often believed to be lacking in self-control, the root of such behaviour might instead be linked to rigid dieting practices. The relationship between strict dieting and binge eating is characterised by a vicious circle. Binge eating is more likely to occur after dieting, and vice versa. Several forms of dieting include delay in eating (e.g. not eating during the day), restriction of overall calorie intake (e.g. setting calorie limit to 1,000 calories per day), and avoidance of certain types of food (e.g. “forbidden” food, such as sugar, carbohydrates, etc.). Strict and extreme dieting differs from ordinary dieting. Some evidence suggests the effectiveness of moderate calorie restriction in decreasing binge eating episodes among overweight individuals with binge eating disorder, at least in the short-term.

In the US it is estimated that 3.5% of young women and 30% to 40% of people who seek weight loss treatments, can be clinically diagnosed with binge eating disorder.

Diagnosis

International Classification of Diseases

BED was first included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1994 simply as a feature of eating disorder. In 2013 it gained formal recognition as a psychiatric condition in the DSM-5.

The 2017 update to the American version of the ICD-10 includes BED under F50.81. ICD-11 may contain a dedicated entry (6B62), defining BED as frequent, recurrent episodes of binge eating (once a week or more over a period of several months) which are not regularly followed by inappropriate compensatory behaviours aimed at preventing weight gain.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual

Previously considered a topic for further research exploration, binge eating disorder was included in the DSM in 2013. Until 2013, binge eating disorder was categorized as an Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, an umbrella category for eating disorders that don’t fall under the categories for anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. Because it was not a recognised psychiatric disorder in the DSM-IV until 2013, it has been difficult to obtain insurance reimbursement for treatments. The disorder now has its own category under DSM-5, which outlines the signs and symptoms that must be present to classify a person’s behaviour as binge eating disorder. Studies have confirmed the high predictive value of these criteria for diagnosing BED.

According to the World Health Organization’s ICD-11 classification of BED, the severity of the disorder can be classified as mild (1-3 episodes/week), moderate (4-7 episodes/week), severe (8-13 episodes/week) and extreme (>14 episodes/week).

One study claims that the method for diagnosing BED is for a clinician to conduct a structured interview using the DSM-5 criteria or taking the Eating Disorder Examination. The Structured Clinical Interview takes no more than 75 minutes to complete and has a systematic approach which follows the DSM-5 criteria. The Eating Disorder Examination is a semi-structured interview which identifies the frequency of binges and associated eating disorder features.

Treatment

Counselling and certain medication, such as lisdexamfetamine and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRIs), may help. Some recommend a multidisciplinary approach in the treatment of the disorder.

Counselling

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) treatment has been demonstrated as a more effective form of treatment for BED than behavioural weight loss programmes. 50% of BED individuals achieve complete remission from binge eating and 68-90% will reduce the amount of binge eating episodes they have. CBT has also been shown to be an effective method to address self-image issues and psychiatric comorbidities (e.g. depression) associated with the disorder. The goal of CBT is to interrupt binge-eating behaviour, learn to create a normal eating schedule, change the perception around weight and shape and develop positive attitudes about one’s body. Although this treatment is successful in eliminating binge eating episodes, it does not lead to losing any weight. Recent reviews have concluded that psychological interventions such as psychotherapy and behavioural interventions are more effective than pharmacological interventions for the treatment of binge eating disorder. A meta-analysis concluded that psychotherapy based on CBT not only significantly improved binge-eating symptomatology but also reduced a client’s BMI significantly at posttreatment and longer than 6 and 12 months after treatment. There is the 12-step Overeaters Anonymous or Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous. Behavioural weight loss treatment has been proven to be effective as a means to achieve weight loss amongst patients.

Medication

Lisdexamfetamine is a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug that is used for the treatment of moderate to severe binge eating disorder in adults.

Three other classes of medications are also used in the treatment of binge eating disorder: antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and anti-obesity medications. Antidepressant medications of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) have been found to effectively reduce episodes of binge eating and reduce weight. Similarly, anticonvulsant medications such as topiramate and zonisamide may be able to effectively suppress appetite. The long-term effectiveness of medication for binge eating disorder is currently unknown. For BED patients with manic episodes, risperidone is recommended. If BED patients have bipolar depression, lamotrigine is appropriate to use.

Trials of antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and anti-obesity medications suggest that these medications are superior to placebo in reducing binge eating. Medications are not considered the treatment of choice because psychotherapeutic approaches, such as CBT, are more effective than medications for binge eating disorder. A meta-analysis concluded that using medications did not reduce binge-eating episodes and BMI posttreatment at 6-12 months. This indicates a potential possibility of relapse after withdrawal from the medications. Medications also do not increase the effectiveness of psychotherapy, though some patients may benefit from anticonvulsant and anti-obesity medications, such as phentermine/topiramate, for weight loss.

Blocking opioid receptors leads to less food intake. Additionally, bupropion and naltrexone used together may cause weight loss. Combining these alongside psychotherapies like CBT may lead to better outcomes for BED.

Surgery

Bariatric surgery has also been proposed as another approach to treat BED and a recent meta-analysis showed that approximately two-thirds of individuals who seek this type of surgery for weight loss purposes have BED. Bariatric surgery recipients who had BED prior to receiving the surgery tend to have poorer weight-loss outcomes and are more likely to continue to exhibit eating behaviours characteristic of BED.

Lifestyle Interventions

Other treatments for BED include lifestyle interventions like weight training, peer support groups, and investigation of hormonal abnormalities.

Prognosis

Individuals suffering from BED often have a lower overall quality of life and commonly experience social difficulties. Early behaviour change is an accurate prediction of remission of symptoms later.

Individuals who have BED commonly have other comorbidities such as major depressive disorder, personality disorder, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, body dysmorphic disorder, kleptomania, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, or an anxiety disorder. Individuals may also exhibit varying degrees of panic attacks and a history of attempted suicide.

While people of a healthy weight may overeat occasionally, an ongoing habit of consuming large amounts of food in a short period of time may ultimately lead to weight gain and obesity. Bingeing episodes usually include foods that are high in fat, sugar, and/or salt, but low in vitamins and minerals, as these types of foods tend to trigger the greatest chemical and emotional rewards. The main physical health consequences of this type of eating disorder are brought on by the weight gain resulting from calorie-laden bingeing episodes. Mental and emotional consequences of binge eating disorder include social weight stigma and emotional loss of control. Up to 70% of individuals with BED may also be obese, and therefore obesity-associated morbidities such as high blood pressure and coronary artery disease type 2 diabetes mellitus gastrointestinal issues (e.g. gallbladder disease), high cholesterol levels, musculoskeletal problems and obstructive sleep apnoea may also be present.

Epidemiology

General

The prevalence of BED in the general population is approximately 1-3%, with BED cases usually occurring between the ages of 12.4 and 24.7, but prevalence rates increase until the age of 40. Binge eating disorder is the most common eating disorder in adults.

The limited amount of research that has been done on BED shows that rates of binge eating disorder are fairly comparable among men and women. The lifetime prevalence of binge eating disorder has been observed in studies to be 2.0% for men and 3.5% for women, higher than that of the commonly recognised eating disorders anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. However another systematic literature review found the prevalence average to be about 2.3% in women and about 0.3% in men. Lifetime prevalence rates for BED in women can range anywhere from 1.5 to 6 times higher than in men. One literature review found that point prevalence rates for BED vary from 0.1% to 24.1% depending on the sample. This same review also found that the 12-month prevalence rates vary between 0.1% to 8.8%.

Recent studies found that eating disorders which included anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge-eating disorder are common among sexual and gender minority populations, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. This could be due to the minority stress and discrimination this population experiences.

Due to limited and inconsistent information and research on ethnic and racial differences, prevalence rates are hard to determine for BED. Rates of binge eating disorder have been found to be similar among black women, white women, and white men, while some studies have shown that binge eating disorder is more common among black women than among white women. However, majority of the research done around BED is focused on White women. One literature review found information citing no difference between BED prevalence among Hispanic, African American, and White women while other information found that BED prevalence was highest among Hispanics followed by Black individuals and finally White people.

Worldwide Prevalence

Eating disorders have usually been considered something that was specific to Western countries. However, the prevalence of eating disorders is increasing in other non-Western countries. Though the research on binge eating disorders tends to be concentrated in North America, the disorder occurs across cultures. In the USA, BED is present in 0.8% of male adults and 1.6% of female adults in a given year.

The prevalence of BED is lower in Nordic countries compared to Europe in a study that included Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Iceland. The point prevalence ranged from 0.4 to 1.5% and the lifetime prevalence ranged from 0.7 to 5.8% for BED in women.

In a study that included Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela, the point prevalence for BED was 3.53%. Therefore, this particular study found that the prevalence for BED is higher in these Latin American countries compared to Western countries.

The prevalence of BED in Europe ranges from <1 to 4%.

Co-Morbidities

BED is co-morbid with diabetes, hypertension, previous stroke, and heart disease in some individuals.

In people who have obsessive-compulsive disorder or bipolar I or II disorders, BED lifetime prevalence was found to be higher.

Additionally, 30 to 40% of individuals seeking treatment for weight-loss can be diagnosed with binge eating disorder.

Underreporting in Men

Eating disorders are oftentimes underreported in men. Underreporting could be a result of measurement bias due to how eating disorders are defined. The current definition for eating disorders focuses on thinness. However, eating disorders in men tend to centre on muscularity and would therefore warrant a need for a different measurement definition. Further research should focus on including more men in samples since previous research has focused primarily on women.

What is an Eating Disorder Inventory?

Introduction

The Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI) is a self-report questionnaire used to assess the presence of eating disorders:

  • Anorexia nervosa both restricting and binge-eating/purging type;
  • Bulimia nervosa; and
  • Eating disorder not otherwise specified including binge eating disorder.

The original questionnaire consisted of 64 questions, divided into eight subscales. It was created in 1984 by David M. Garner and others. There have been two subsequent revisions by Garner:

  • The Eating Disorder Inventory-2 (EDI-2); and
  • The Eating Disorder Inventory-3 (EDI-3).

Diagnostic Use

The Eating Disorder Inventory is a diagnostic tool designed for use in a clinical setting to assess the presence of an eating disorder. It is generally used in conjunction with other psychological tests such as the Beck Depression Inventory. Depression has been shown to yield higher scores on the EDI-3.

Eating Disorder Inventory

The Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI) comprises 64 questions, divided into eight subscales. Each question is on a 6-point scale (ranging from “always” to “never”), rated 0-3. The score for each sub-scale is then summed. The 8 subscale scores on the EDI are:

  • Drive for thinness: an excessive concern with dieting, preoccupation with weight, and fear of weight gain.
  • Bulimia: episodes of binge eating and purging.
  • Body dissatisfaction: not being satisfied with one’s physical appearance.
  • Ineffectiveness: assesses feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, worthlessness and having no control over their lives.
  • Perfectionism: not being satisfied with anything less than perfect.
  • Interpersonal distrust: reluctance to form close relationships.
  • Interoceptive awareness: “measures the ability of an individual to discriminate between sensations and feelings, and between the sensations of hunger and satiety”.
  • Maturity fears: The fear of facing the demands of adult life.

Eating Disorder Inventory-2

The first revision of the EDI was in 1991. The 1991 version, Eating Disorder Inventory-2 (EDI-2) is used for both males and females over age 12. The EDI-2 retains the original format of the EDI with the inclusion of 27 new items divided into three additional subscales:

  • Asceticism: reflects the avoidance of sexual relationships.
  • Impulse regulation: shows the ability to regulate impulsive behaviour, especially the binge behaviour.
  • Social insecurity: estimates social fears and insecurity.

Eating Disorder Inventory-3

The latest revision to the Eating Disorder Inventory was released in 2004. It contains the original items of the first version as well as EDI-2, and was also enhanced to reflect more modern theories related to the diagnosis of eating disorders. It was designed for use with females ages 13-53 years, and can be administered in 20 minutes. It contains 91 items divided into twelve subscales rated on a 0-4 point scoring system. Three items on the EDI-3 are specific to eating disorders, and 9 are general psychological scales that are relevant to eating disorders. The inventory yields six composite scores: eating disorder risk, ineffectiveness, interpersonal problems, affective problems, overcontrol, and general psychological maladjustment.

Eating Disorder Symptom Checklist

The Eating Disorder Symptom Checklist is a separate self-report form used to measure the frequency of symptoms (i.e., binge eating; the use of laxatives, diet pills; exercise patterns). The information provided by the checklist aids in determining whether patients meets the diagnostic criteria as set forth in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV-TR for an eating disorder.

Eating Disorder Referral Form

The Eating Disorder Referral Form is an abbreviated form of the EDI-3 for use in non-clinical settings such as the allied health professions. It contains 25 questions from the EDI-3 that are specific to eating disorder risk. It also includes questions specific to the behavioural patterns of someone with or at risk of developing an eating disorder. The referral form utilizes indexes based on body mass index in identifying at risk patients.

What is the SCOFF Questionnaire?

Introduction

The SCOFF questionnaire utilises an acronym in a simple five question test devised for use by non-professionals to assess the possible presence of an eating disorder.

Scoff is also an alternative/slang word for food.

Background

It was devised by John F. Morgan, Fiona Reid, and J Hubert Lacey in 1999.

The original SCOFF questionnaire was devised for use in the United Kingdom, thus the original acronym needs to be adjusted for users in the United States and Canada.

The letters in the full acronym are taken from key words in the questions:

  • Do you make yourself Sick because you feel uncomfortably full?
  • Do you worry that you have lost Control over how much you eat?
  • Have you recently lost more than One stone (14 lb/6.5 kg) in a 3-month period?
  • Do you believe yourself to be Fat when others say you are too thin?
  • Would you say that Food dominates your life?

Notes

  • The “S” stands for “Sick”:
    • In British English means specifically to “vomit”.
    • In American English and Canadian English it is synonymous with “ill”.
  • The “O” is used in the acronym to denote “one stone”.
    • A “stone” is an Imperial unit of weight which made up of 14 lbs (equivalent to 6.35 kg).

All participants (in Morgan and colleagues research) found the questions and the term “SCOFF” acceptable. Setting the threshold at two or more yes answers to all five questions provided 100% sensitivity for anorexia and bulimia, separately and combined (all patients: 95% confidence interval, 96.9%-100.0%; patients with bulimia: 92.6%-100.0%; and patients with anorexia: 94.7%-100.0%), with a specificity of 87.5% (79.2%-93.4%) for controls.

Scoring

One point is assigned for every “yes”; a score greater than two (≥2) indicates a possible case of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.

Reference

Morgan, J.F., Reid, F. & Lacy, J.H. (2000) The SCOFF Questionnaire. Western Journal of Medicine. 172(3), pp.164-165.

Do High Levels of Physical Activity in Acute Anorexia Nervosa Associate with Worse Clinical Outcomes at Admission?

Research Paper Title

High levels of physical activity in female adolescents with anorexia nervosa: medical and psychopathological correlates.

Background

While overexercise is commonly described in patients who experience anorexia nervosa (AN), it represents a condition still underestimated, especially in the paediatric population.

Methods

The present study aims at assessing the possible associations between levels of physical activity (PA) and clinical features, endocrinological data and psychopathological traits in a sample of 244 female adolescents hospitalised for AN subdivided into two groups according to PA levels (high PA vs. no/low PA). The two groups were compared through multivariate analyses, while multiple regression analysis was conducted to determine whether physical activity predict specific outcomes.

Results

No significant differences were found between the two groups in terms of last Body Mass Index (BMI) before illness, BMI at admission and disease duration, while a difference emerged in delta BMI(rapidity of weight loss), significantly higher in high-PA group (p = 0.021). Significant differences were observed in Free triiodothyronine- (p < 0.001), Free thyroxine (p = 0.046), Follicle-stimulating hormone (p = 0.019), Luteinising hormone (p = 0.002) levels, with values remarkably lower in high-PA group. Concerning psychopathological scales, the high-PA group showed worst Children’s Global Assessment Scale (CGAS) scores (p = 0.035). Regression analyses revealed that higher PA predicts higher delta BMI (p = 0.021), presence of amenorrhea (p = 0.003), lower heart rate (p = 0.012), lower thyroid (Free triiodothyronine p < 0.001, Free thyroxine p = 0.029) and gynaecological hormones’ levels (Follicle-stimulating hormone p = 0.023, Luteinising hormone p = 0.003, 17-Beta estradiol p = 0.041). Concerning psychiatric measures, HPA predicts worst scores at CGAS (p = 0.019), and at scales for evaluation of alexithymia (p = 0.028) and depression (p = 0.004).

Conclusions

Results suggest that high levels of physical activity in acute AN associate with worst clinical conditions at admission, especially in terms of endocrinological and medical features.

Reference

Riva, A., Falbo, M., Passoni, P., Polizzi, S., Cattoni, A. & Nacinovich, R. (2021) High levels of physical activity in female adolescents with anorexia nervosa: medical and psychopathological correlates. Eating and Weight Disorders. doi: 10.1007/s40519-021-01126-3. Online ahead of print.

What is Orthorexia Nervosa?

Orthorexia nervosa (also known as orthorexia) is a proposed eating disorder characterised by an excessive preoccupation with eating healthy food.

The term was introduced in 1997 by American physician Steven Bratman, M.D. He suggested that some people’s dietary restrictions intended to promote health may paradoxically lead to unhealthy consequences, such as social isolation, anxiety, loss of ability to eat in a natural, intuitive manner, reduced interest in the full range of other healthy human activities, and, in rare cases, severe malnutrition or even death.

In 2009, Ursula Philpot, chair of the British Dietetic Association and senior lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University, described people with orthorexia nervosa as being “solely concerned with the quality of the food they put in their bodies, refining and restricting their diets according to their personal understanding of which foods are truly ‘pure’.” This differs from other eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, where those affected focus on the quantity of food eaten.

Orthorexia nervosa also differs from anorexia nervosa in that it does not disproportionally affect one gender. Studies have found that orthorexia nervosa is equally found in both men and women with no significant gender differences at all. Furthermore, research has found significant positive correlations between ON and both narcissism and perfectionism, but no significant correlation between ON and self esteem. This shows that high-ON individuals likely take pride over their healthy eating habits over others and that is the driving force behind their orthorexia as opposed to body image like anorexia.

Orthorexia nervosa is not recognised as an eating disorder by the American Psychiatric Association, and so is not mentioned as an official diagnosis in the widely used Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

Brief History

In a 1997 article in the magazine Yoga Journal, the American physician Steven Bratman coined the term “orthorexia nervosa” from the Greek ορθο- (ortho, “right” or “correct”), and όρεξις (orexis, “appetite”), literally meaning ‘correct appetite’, but in practice meaning ‘correct diet’. The term is modelled on anorexia, literally meaning “without appetite”, as used in the definition of the condition anorexia nervosa. (In both terms, “nervosa” indicates an unhealthy psychological state.) Bratman described orthorexia as an unhealthy fixation with what the individual considers to be healthy eating. Beliefs about what constitutes healthy eating commonly originate in one or another dietary theory such as raw foods veganism or macrobiotics, but are then taken to extremes, leading to disordered eating patterns and psychological and/or physical impairment. Bratman based this proposed condition on his personal experiences in the 1970s, as well as behaviours he observed among his patients in the 1990s. In 2000, Bratman, with David Knight, authored the book Health Food Junkies, which further expanded on the subject.

Following the publication of the book, in 2004 a team of Italian researchers from La Sapienza University of Rome, published the first empirical study attempting to develop a tool to measure the prevalence of orthorexia, known as the ORTO-15.

In 2015, responding to news articles in which the term orthorexia is applied to people who merely follow a non-mainstream theory of healthy eating, Bratman specified the following: “A theory may be conventional or unconventional, extreme or lax, sensible or totally wacky, but, regardless of the details, followers of the theory do not necessarily have orthorexia. They are simply adherents of a dietary theory. The term ‘orthorexia’ only applies when an eating disorder develops around that theory.” Bratman elsewhere clarifies that with a few exceptions, most common theories of healthy eating are followed safely by the majority of their adherents; however, “for some people, going down the path of a restrictive diet in search of health may escalate into dietary perfectionism.” Karin Kratina, PhD, writing for the National Eating Disorders Association, summarises this process as follows: “Eventually food choices become so restrictive, in both variety and calories, that health suffers – an ironic twist for a person so completely dedicated to healthy eating.”

Although orthorexia is not recognised as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association, and it is not listed in the DSM-5, as of January 2016, four case reports and more than 40 other articles on the subject have been published in a variety of peer-reviewed journals internationally. According to a study published in 2011, two-thirds of a sample of 111 Dutch-speaking eating disorder specialists felt they had observed the syndrome in their clinical practice.

According to the Macmillan English Dictionary, the word is entering the English lexicon. The concept of orthorexia as a newly developing eating disorder has attracted significant media attention in the 21st century.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of orthorexia nervosa include “obsessive focus on food choice, planning, purchase, preparation, and consumption; food regarded primarily as source of health rather than pleasure; distress or disgust when in proximity to prohibited foods; exaggerated faith that inclusion or elimination of particular kinds of food can prevent or cure disease or affect daily well-being; periodic shifts in dietary beliefs while other processes persist unchanged; moral judgment of others based on dietary choices; body image distortion around sense of physical “impurity” rather than weight; persistent belief that dietary practices are health-promoting despite evidence of malnutrition.”

Cause(s)

There has been no investigation into whether there may be a biological cause specific to orthorexia nervosa. It may be a food-centred manifestation of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which has a lot to do with control.

Diagnosis

In 2016, formal criteria for orthorexia were proposed in the peer-reviewed journal Eating Behaviours by Thom Dunn and Steven Bratman. These criteria are as follows:

  • Criterion A:
    • Obsessive focus on “healthy” eating, as defined by a dietary theory or set of beliefs whose specific details may vary; marked by exaggerated emotional distress in relationship to food choices perceived as unhealthy; weight loss may ensue, but this is conceptualised as an aspect of ideal health rather than as the primary goal.
    • As evidenced by the following:
      1. Compulsive behaviour and/or mental preoccupation regarding affirmative and restrictive dietary practices believed by the individual to promote optimum health. (Footnotes to this criteria add: Dietary practices may include use of concentrated “food supplements.” Exercise performance and/or fit body image may be regarded as an aspect or indicator of health.)
      2. Violation of self-imposed dietary rules causes exaggerated fear of disease, sense of personal impurity and/or negative physical sensations, accompanied by anxiety and shame.
      3. Dietary restrictions escalate over time, and may come to include elimination of entire food groups and involve progressively more frequent and/or severe “cleanses” (partial fasts) regarded as purifying or detoxifying. This escalation commonly leads to weight loss, but the desire to lose weight is absent, hidden or subordinated to ideation about healthy food.
  • Criterion B:
    • The compulsive behaviour and mental preoccupation becomes clinically impairing by any of the following:
      1. Malnutrition, severe weight loss or other medical complications from restricted diet.
      2. Intrapersonal distress or impairment of social, academic or vocational functioning secondary to beliefs or behaviours about healthy diet.
      3. Positive body image, self-worth, identity and/or satisfaction excessively dependent on compliance with self-defined “healthy” eating behaviour.

A diagnostic questionnaire has been developed for orthorexia sufferers, similar to questionnaires for other eating disorders, named the ORTO-15. However, Dunn and Bratman critique this survey tool as lacking appropriate internal and external validation.

Epidemiology

Results across scientific findings have yet to find a definitive conclusion to support whether nutrition students and professionals are at higher risk than other population subgroups, due to differing results in the research literature. There are only a few notable scientific works that, in an attempt to explore the breadth and depth of the still vaguely-understood illness, have tried to identify which groups in society are most vulnerable to its onset. This includes a 2008 German study, which based its research on the widespread suspicion that the most nutritionally-informed, such as university nutrition students, are a potential high-risk group for eating disorders, due to a substantial accumulation of knowledge on food and its relationship to health; the idea being that the more one knows about health, the more likely an unhealthy fixation about being healthy can develop. This study also inferred that orthorexic tendencies may even fuel a desire to study the science, indicating that many within this field might suffer from the disorder before commencing the course. However the results found that the students in the study, upon initial embarkation of their degree, did not have higher orthorexic values than other non-nutrition university students, and thus the report concluded that further research is needed to clarify the relationship between food-education and the onset of ON.

Similarly, in a Portuguese study on nutrition tertiary students, the participants’ orthorexic scores (according to the ORTO-15 diagnostic questionnaire) actually decreased as they progressed through their course, as well as the overall risk of developing an eating disorder being low at 4.2%. The participants also answered questionnaires to provide insight into their eating behaviours and attitudes, and despite this study finding that nutrition and health-science students tend to have more restrictive eating behaviours, these studies however found no evidence to support that these students have “more disturbed or disordered eating patterns than other students” These two aforementioned studies conclude that the more understanding of food one has is not necessarily a risk factor for ON, explaining that the data gathered suggests dietetics professionals are not at significant risk of it.

However, these epidemiologic studies have been critiqued as using a fundamentally flawed survey tool that inflates prevalence rates. Scholars have questioned both the reliability and validity of the ORTO-15.

Most scientific findings tend to agree, however, young adults and adolescents are extremely susceptible to developing eating disorders. One study found that there was no relationship between BOT score and college major, which may indicate the prevalence of mental health issues and eating disorders on college campuses and that health and science majors are no longer the only ones affected More studies have also been conducted on the link between increased Instagram use and Orthorexia nervosa. The social media based healthy community has recently grown in popularity especially on platforms such as Instagram. The hashtag #food is one of the top 25 most popular hashtags on Instagram. A study that investigated this relationship found that increased use of Instagram correlated between symptoms of ON with no other social media platform having the same effect. With young adults and adolescents making up the majority of social media users, exposure to this type of content can lead to developing unhealthy behaviour.

Highlighting the Hidden Links between Mental Disorders

Research Paper Title

The hidden links between mental disorders.

Background

Psychiatrists have a dizzying array of diagnoses and not enough treatments. Hunting for the hidden biology underlying mental disorders could help.

In 2018, psychiatrist Oleguer Plana-Ripoll was wrestling with a puzzling fact about mental disorders. He knew that many individuals have multiple conditions – anxiety and depression, say, or schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. He wanted to know how common it was to have more than one diagnosis, so he got his hands on a database containing the medical details of around 5.9 million Danish citizens.

You can continue reading the full article here.

Reference

Marshall, M. (2020) The hidden links between mental disorders. Nature. 581(7806), pp.19-21. doi: 10.1038/d41586-020-00922-8.