European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 16, Issue 8, pp 495-504

First online:

Epidemiology of eating disorders

A two year follow up in an early adolescent school population
  • C. SanchoAffiliated withPreventive Medicine and Public Health, Rovira i Virgili University
  • , M. V. ArijaAffiliated withPreventive Medicine and Public Health, Rovira i Virgili University
  • , O. AsoreyAffiliated withDept. of Psychology, Rovira i Virgili University
  • , J. CanalsAffiliated withDept. of Psychology, Rovira i Virgili University Email author 

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The aims of this study were to determine the prevalence of eating disorders (ED) in a representative school population of early adolescents of both sexes and to evaluate persistence and incidence after two years.


An initial sample of 1336 (mean age = 11.37) was assessed in a two-phase design. The Children Eating Attitudes Test was used to select 258 participants (T1) from the initial sample who were followed-up two years later (T2; n = 200). Diagnoses of ED were obtained using the Diagnostic Interview for Children and Adolescents- Children and Parent Version (DICA-C and DICA-P) at T1, and Adolescent Version (DICA-A) at T2. At T2, participants were also assessed with the Eating Attitudes Test, the Bulimic Investigatory Test, and the Eating Disorders Inventory. The Body mass index (BMI) was obtained for all participants.


The estimated prevalence of any ED according to DICA-C (T1) and DICA-A was 3.44% and 3.81%, respectively. The most frequent diagnoses were syndromes that were not full-blown. Biannual incidence of any ED was 2.02%. Amongst those with an ED, 52.17% persisted. Females showed a higher incidence and persistence of any ED than males. Participants who had the highest BMI were those who had a persistent diagnosis of ED.


ED that began at early ages in less severe forms and in females often persisted with increasing severity.

Key words

eating disorders prevalence follow-up study early adolescence