Assessment of Eating Disorder Symptoms In Children and Adolescents

  • Nancy Zucker
  • Rhonda Merwin
  • Camden Elliott
  • Jennifer Lacy
  • Dawn Eichen

The most recent diagnostic classification system delineated by the American Psychiatric Association (DSM—IV; American Psychiatric Association, 2000) is not sensitive to the expression of disordered eating in children and adolescents (Cooper, Watkins, Bryant-Waugh, & Lask, 2002). The issues are complex. First, symptom expression in children and adolescents may manifest differently than in adults due to developmental influences on cognition, affect, and physical maturation. Second, children and adolescents may require different symptom thresholds for diagnosis given the sensitivity and importance of nutritional health for these age groups. Indeed, malnourishment may have permanent negative effects on cognitive and emotional functioning, sexual maturation, and physical growth, damage that may be particularly pronounced during this sensitive developmental period (Oninla, Owa, Onayade, & Taiwo, 2007). The end result of these challenges is that clinicians may fail to detect children and adolescents in need of intervention, the failure to detect lower symptom thresholds may have permanent negative health consequences, diminished sensitivity to the age-related expression of symptoms may interfere with appropriate treatment formulation, and the failure to consider developmental nuances may prevent the advance of a meaningful research agenda. This chapter is intended to address these important issues by proposing strategies for assessment that consider developmentally sensitive manifestations of eating disturbance in children and adolescents for the purposes of diagnosis and case formulation.


Body Image Anorexia Nervosa Eating Disorder Binge Eating Body Dissatisfaction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nancy Zucker
    • 1
  • Rhonda Merwin
    • 2
  • Camden Elliott
    • 2
  • Jennifer Lacy
    • 2
  • Dawn Eichen
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesDuke University Medical CenterDurham
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesDuke University Medical CenterDurham

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