The Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26) is probably the most widely used standardized self-report measure of symptoms and concerns characteristic of eating disorders. It has been particularly useful in assessing “eating disorder risk” in high school, college and other special risk groups. The EAT-26 is a refinement of the original EAT-40 that was first published in 1979 and used in one of the first studies to examine socio-cultural factors in the development and maintenance of eating disorders.
The EAT-26 is not designed to make a diagnosis of an eating disorder or to take the place of a professional diagnosis or consultation. The EAT-26 alone does not yield a specific diagnosis of an eating disorder. Neither the EAT-26, nor any other screening instrument, has been established as highly efficient as the sole means for identifying eating disorders.
The EAT-26 and EAT-40 are protected under copyright; however, because it has been the wishes of the originators to provide others free access to these tests, all fees and royalties have been waived. Follow the instructions on the website (http://www.eat-26.com/permission.php) to obtain the appropriate permissions.
The EAT-26 can be used in a non-clinical as well as a clinical setting not specifically focused on eating disorders. It can be administered in group or individual settings and is designed to be administered by mental health professionals, school counselors, coaches, camp counselors, and others with interest in gathering information to determine if an individual should be referred to a specialist for evaluation for an eating disorder. It is ideally suited for school settings, athletic programs, fitness centers, infertility clinics, pediatric practices, general practice settings, and outpatient psychiatric departments. It is intended primarily for adolescents and adults.
The EAT-26 should be used as the first step in a two-stage screening process. According to this methodology, individuals who score 20 or more on the test should be interviewed by a qualified professional to determine if they meet the diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder. If you have a low score on the EAT-26 (below 20), you still could have a serious eating problem, so do not let the results deter you from seeking help. For example, some individuals with Binge Eating Disorder (BED) score low on the EAT-26 but may have a serious eating disorder.