Step two is about creating the resources to Identify Disordered Eating Symptoms in schools. In a perfect world this would include designating a person at your school to be a resource on body image and eating disorders. Schools are the perfect place to detect and direct students at risk for eating disorders. Experts suggest designating this school resource person to focus on nutrition, eating disorders, and prevention.

This point person could do in-service training and implimentation of universal and high-risk eating disorder prevention programs. This point person could be a social worker or nurse and receive appropriate training, allowing them to conduct staff training sessions and act as a resouce when students or staff have questions. 

The checklist below is the type of resource that a point person at the school could give to teachers who are best in a postition to notice them, as they see students daily. This is a list of typical physical, behavioral, and psychological symptoms of eating disorders.

With behaviors and emotions, we are basically looking for a fear of food; a flat mood or mood swings; and complaints about the self. Physically we are looking for big weight shifts up or down in a relatively short amount of time.



  • An intense fear of gaining weight 
  • A negative or distorted self-image 
  • Frequent checking in the mirror for perceived flaws 
  • Self-worth and self-esteem depend on body shape and weight 
  • Fear of eating in public or with others 
  • Preoccupation with food 
  • Obsessive interest in maintaining low weight to enhance performance in sports, dance, acting, or modeling 
  • Obsessive interest in cooking shows on television and collecting recipes 
  • Hoarding food 
  • Only eating “safe” or “healthy” foods 
  • Making excuses for not eating 
  • Rigidity in behaviors and routines, and extreme anxiety if these are interrupted
  • Cooking elaborate meals for others, but refusing to eat them themselves
  • Eating strange combinations of foods
  • Elaborate food rituals
  • Constantly talking about food 
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom 
  • Wearing very baggy clothes to hide: 
    • a very thin body (anorexia) or 
    • weight gain (binge eating disorder) or 
    • their body because of dissatisfaction about body shape/size 
  • Feeling fatigued or getting dizzy 
  • Avoiding the cafeteria 
  • Carrying their own food in backpack or purse 
  • Talking about dieting, food, and exercise excessively
  • Dieting or has chaotic food intake; 
    • pretends to eat, then throws away food; 
    • skips meals 
  • Exercising for long periods and excessively 
  • Avoids nutritious foods because they are “fattening” 

Emotional signs

  • Change in attitude/performance 
  • Expresses body image complaints/concerns:
    • unable to accept compliments
    • constantly compares self to others 
    • self-disparaging; refers to self as fat, gross, ugly
    • overestimates body size
    • strives to create a “perfect” image
    • seeks constant outside reassurance about looks 
  • Appears sad/depressed/anxious/or expresses feelings of worthlessness 
  • Is the target of size or weight bullying 
  • Spends increasing amounts of time alone 
  • Overvalues self-sufficiency; reluctant to ask for help 

Physical Signs

  • Sudden weight loss, gain, or fluctuation in short time 
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Feeling full or “bloated” 
  • Feeling faint, cold, or tired 
  • Dry hair or skin, dehydration, blue hands/feet 
  • Lanugo hair (fine body hair)