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New contributions to the prevalence of eating disorders in Spanish adolescents: detection of false negatives

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 April 2020

Teresa Rodríguez-Cano
Department of Psychiatry, Ciudad Real Hospital, Ciudad Real, Spain
Luis Beato-Fernández*
Department of Psychiatry, Eating Disorders Unit, Ciudad Real Hospital, Carretera de Valdepeñas, 5, P-3 4°-B 13004, Ciudad Real, Spain
Antonia Belmonte-Llario
Department of Psychiatry, Ciudad Real Hospital, Ciudad Real, Spain
*Corresponding author. E-mail address: (L. Beato-Fernández).
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Although the epidemiology of Eating Disorders (ED) has been highly developed in Spain, further research considering false negatives and also the prevalence of these disorders in males are needed. They were the aims of the present study.


One thousand and seventy six adolescents (500 males and 576 females) participated in a two-stage survey. At the age of 13, apart from exploring numerous clinical and psychosocial variables, they were assessed by means of self-administered screening instruments, the eating attitude test (EAT), bulimic investigatory test Edinburgh (BITE), and body shape questionnaire (BSQ). The subjects were interviewed again 2 years later. Afterwards, 159 probable cases and 150 controls were interviewed by means of the structured interview SCAN.


Prevalence of ED in adolescents was 3.71% (95% CI 2.58–4.83; 6.4% of females, 0.6% of males): anorexia nervosa 0.1%, bulimia nervosa 0.75%, eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS) = 2.88%. The rate of false negative was 2.6% of the control group and most of them were EDNOS.


The prevalence of ED obtained in our study, higher than others found in previous Spanish research, and a relatively high percentage of false negatives both indicate that up to now the prevalence of ED in Spanish adolescents could be underestimated.

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