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Thinking dimensional: prevalence of DSM-5 early adolescent full syndrome, partial and subthreshold eating disorders in a cross-sectional survey in German schools

05 May 2016


Investigating for the first time in Germany Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Fifth Edition (DSM-5) prevalences of adolescent full syndrome, Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED), partial and subthreshold anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN) and binge eating disorder (BED).


A national school-based cross-sectional survey with nine schools in Germany was undertaken that was aimed at students from grades 7 and 8. Of the 1775 students who were contacted to participate in the study, 1654 participated (participation rate: 93.2%). The sample consisted of 873 female and 781 male adolescents (mean age=13.4 years). Prevalence rates were established using direct symptom criteria with a structured inventory (SIAB-S) and an additional self-report questionnaire (Eating Disorder Inventory 2 (EDI-2)).


Prevalences for full syndrome were 0.3% for AN, 0.4% for BN, 0.5% for BED and 3.6% for OSFED-atypical AN, 0% for BN (low frequency/limited duration), 0% for BED (low frequency/limited duration) and 1.9% for purging disorder (PD). Prevalences of partial syndrome were 10.9% for AN (7.1% established with cognitive symptoms only, excluding weight criteria), 0.2% for BN and 2.1% for BED, and of subthreshold syndrome were 0.8% for AN, 0.3% for BN and 0.2% for BED. Cases on EDI-2 scales were much more pronounced with 12.6–21.1% of the participants with significant sex differences.


The findings were in accordance with corresponding international studies but were in contrast to other German studies showing much higher prevalence rates. The study provides, for the first time, estimates for DSM-5 prevalences of eating disorders in adolescents for Germany, and evidence in favour of using valid measures for improving prevalence estimates.

Trial registration number

DRKS00005050; Results.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open