Disturbed Eating Severity Scale (DESS) places disturbed eating risk on a continuum

Virginia M. Quick, Carol Byrd-Bredbenner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to develop a tool for assessing the severity of disturbed eating, use the tool to place disturbed eating behavior severity on a continuum, and to investigate how demographic and psychographic characteristics associated with disturbed eating differ across this continuum. Young adults (n= 2438; 58% White; 63% female) from three north coast universities completed an online survey (fall 2009 to summer 2010) assessing eating behaviors and psychographic characteristics. Eating behavior scores were used to calculate the Disturbed Eating Severity Score (DESS), which placed participants along a continuum of four disturbed eating severity (non- disturbed to highly-disturbed) categories. Analysis of covariance and post hoc tests revealed significant differences among DESS categories on all eating behavior scales and nearly all psychographic characteristics. Thus, the DESS scale may help health care practitioners identify patients with varying degrees of disturbed eating behaviors and offer early interventions that could halt progress toward an eating disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)168-176
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


  • Disturbed eating
  • Eating behaviors
  • Young adults

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