In recent years, the diagnostic definitions of eating disorders (EDs) have undergone dramatic changes. The Eating Attitudes Test-26 (EAT-26), which is considered an accepted instrument for community ED studies, has shown in its factorial structure to be inconsistent in different cultures and populations. The aim of the present study was to compare the factor structure of the EAT-26 among clinical and non-clinical populations. The clinical group included 207 female adolescents who were hospitalized with an ED (mean age 16.1). The non-clinical group included 155 female adolescents (mean age 16.1). Both groups completed the EAT-26. A series of factorial invariance models was conducted on the EAT-26. The results indicate that significant differences were found between the two groups regarding the original EAT-26 dimensions: dieting, bulimia and food preoccupation, and oral control. Additionally, the factorial structure of the EAT-26 was found to be significantly different in both groups compared to the original version. In the clinical group, the factorial structure of the EAT-26 consisted of four factors, whereas in the non-clinical sample, five factors were identified. Additionally, a 19-item version of the EAT-26 was found to be considerably more stable and well suited to capture ED symptoms in both groups, and a cutoff point of 22 (not 20) better differentiated clinical samples from non-clinical samples. The proposed shortening of the EAT from 40 to 26 and now to 19 items should be examined in future studies. That said, the shortened scale seems more suited for use among both clinical and non-clinical populations. These results reflect changes that have taken place in ED psychopathology over recent decades.
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- clinical and non-clinical populations
- eating disorders
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Nutrition and Dietetics