Although Disordered Eating Behaviors (DEB) is an ill-defined concept, multiple studies have examined prevalence of DEB and its relations to other variables in various populations. DEB have been shown to predict more serious eating disorders which in turn can lead to death. Mostly girls seem to suffer from DEB, but the question has been raised whether this, at least, partially is due to the methods used for screening. The SCOFF-questionnaire has been suggested as a quick and easily administered tool to assess DEB. However, the psychometric results regarding SCOFF suggest some inconsistencies, and more research is needed in various countries and age samples.
To validate SCOFF, a total of 1265 Swedish adolescents (51.6 % girls) completed self-report questionnaires using the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q) as a reference standard.
The factor analyses show inconclusive results as to whether SCOFF should be regarded as a comprehensive scale; furthermore, the results indicate a correlation between SCOFF and the EDE-Q in both girl and boy samples. Girls scored significantly higher on SCOFF and also had a higher total score, indicating more severe problems than boys.
The results raised questions as to whether the SCOFF might be interpreted and responded to in different ways by girls and boys, risking overlooking boys’ DEB and also whether one “yes” answer, instead of the stipulated two, could be sufficient when using SCOFF for screening purposes. In sum, the results challenge the use of SCOFF in a general adolescent population.