Weight Status and DSM-5 Diagnoses of Eating Disorders in Adolescents From the Community

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2015 May;54(5):403-411.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2015.01.020. Epub 2015 Feb 16.


Objective: To estimate jointly the point prevalence of weight and eating disorders in a community sample of adolescents; to investigate psychosocial correlates of thinness, overweight, and obesity, and of full- and subthreshold eating disorders (EDs); and to examine the relationships between weight status and prevalence of EDs.

Method: A total of 3,043 Canadian adolescents (1,254 males and 1,789 females; mean age = 14.19 years, SD = 1.61 years) completed self-report questionnaires, including the Eating Disorder Diagnostic Scale, and measures of psychosocial functioning. Objective weight and height were collected, and weight status was defined according to the International Obesity Task Force body mass index growth curve centiles.

Results: In all, 29.5% (95% CI = 26.7, 32.5) of males and 22.8% (95% CI = 20.5, 25.2) of females were overweight or obese. A total of 2.2% (95% CI = 1.5, 3.2) of males and 4.5% (95% CI = 4.4, 4.5) of females met DSM-5 criteria for an ED; in addition, 1.1% (95% CI = 0.7, 1.9) of males and 5.1% (95% CI = 4.0, 6.5) of females were identified with a subthreshold ED. Both full- and subthreshold EDs were significantly associated with markedly impaired psychosocial functioning. There was a significant relationship between prevalence of EDs and weight status, with an increased risk for a bulimic disorder in obese relative to normal-weight males (odds ratio [OR] = 7.86) and females (OR = 3.27).

Conclusion: This study provides estimates for the prevalence of DSM-5 EDs in adolescents, further support for their impact on mental health, and new evidence for an association between bulimic disorders and obesity. Results call for an integrated approach in research and prevention regarding the whole spectrum of eating- and weight-related disorders.

Keywords: DSM-5; adolescent; eating disorders; obesity; prevalence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Image / psychology*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Child
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Ontario
  • Overweight / epidemiology*
  • Schools
  • Self Report
  • Young Adult