Source: Press Release
Disclosures: Silverstein reports being an investigator on an NIH-funded project related to screening for depression, anxiety and suicide risk in adults.
October 20, 2021
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USPSTF calls for more research on benefits of screening for eating disorders

Source: Press Release
Disclosures: Silverstein reports being an investigator on an NIH-funded project related to screening for depression, anxiety and suicide risk in adults.
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The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said there was insufficient evidence to make a recommendation on whether clinicians should screen asymptomatic adolescents and adults for eating disorders.

The I statement is the USPSTF’s first-ever draft recommendation on eating disorders.

The quote is We need more research on whether or not it’s beneficial to screen everyone [for eating disorders] who has no signs or symptoms. The source of the quote is Michael Silverstein, MD, MPH.

“Every year, a variety of topics are nominated,” Michael Silverstein, MD, MPH, a task force member and professor and associate chief medical officer for research and population health at Boston Medical Center and Boston University School of Medicine, told Healio Primary Care. “The task force gives very serious consideration to all the topics that are nominated, and the consensus was that this would be an important topic to look at.”

Although data indicate that the lifetime prevalence of eating disorders in the U.S. may vary from 0.5% to 3.5% in women, 0.1% to 2% in men, 0.3% to 2.3% in teenage girls and 0.3% to 1.3% in teenage boys, the topic has not been extensively researched, according to the USPSTF. Therefore, the true percentages may be much higher, the task force wrote.

Other medical societies have issued eating disorder-related recommendations. According to the task force, the AAP “recommends that pediatricians include screening for eating disorders in their annual health supervision or sports examinations through longitudinal weight and height monitoring as well as looking for signs of disordered eating” and that “all preteens and adolescents should be screened about eating patterns and body image issues.” In addition, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends “that clinicians be able to identify signs of disordered eating and screen at-risk patients,” the task force wrote.

“We need more research on whether or not it’s beneficial to screen everyone who has no signs or symptoms,” Silverstein said. “That’s the critical distinguishing feature here.”

Until such evidence becomes available, Silverstein encouraged physicians to be aware of the signs and symptoms of eating disorders, such as frequent changes in mood and weight. He said populations that are at higher risk for eating disorders include women, older adolescents and transgender individuals.

In addition, when a patient does “come forward with signs or symptoms, knowing who to refer those patients to and knowing local community resources for them are some of the most important things physicians need to be aware of,” Silverstein said.

Comments on the draft recommendation statement are being accepted until Nov. 15 and can be submitted via www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/tfcomment.htm.

Editor's note: The USPSTF's final recommendation on screening for eating disorders was published on March 15, 2022. It can be found here

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