Research Behind the RAAPS Questions (Question #1)

The RAAPS vision was to create a time efficient, youth-friendly and easy-to-use screening tool that could reach adolescents in a variety of settings.  RAAPS was based on “gold standard” research that was recommended by top government and professional organizations, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The ultimate goal of RAAPS is to identify the risk behaviors contributing most to serious injury and death in teens such as substance use, mental health, unintentional injuries, and sexual behaviors (along with others) allowing professionals working with teens to positively and quickly impact change.  During the development of RAAPS youth were involved in the creation of the questions, subsequently questions were reworded in their language improving their comprehension of the behavior being assessed and the communication between professionals and teens when discussing risk behaviors.

This is the first blog post in a series of 21 posts discussing each of the RAAPS questions, the research behind the question and reasons the question is important in positively impacting adolescent health.

This post discusses RAAPS Question #1: teens and dieting behaviors.

Many kids – particularly adolescents – are concerned about how they look and feel about their bodies.  This can be especially true when they undergo dramatic physical changes during puberty. By age 16, nearly 80% of girls report having been on a diet. Disordered eating such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia, or compulsive over eating frequently develops during the early teen years, between the ages of 11-13. While more common in girls, (eating disorders affect 5-7% of all females in the United States during their lifetime) eating disorders can affect boys too.  When comparing data from the 1995-2005 YRBS results, they indicate an increase in dieting and diet product use among female adolescents, and an increase in all weight control behaviors (dieting, diet product use, purging, exercise and vigorous exercise) among adolescent males. Eating disorders can cause dramatic weight fluctuation, interfere with normal daily life, permanently affect one’s health, and even cause death.

Not all weight control progresses to the point of disordered eating. Ensure that you are screening all teens for eating disorders by using RAAPS and provide the necessary counseling and referrals to make a difference in their lives before it progresses any further!

Let me know if you have any questions or comments—I’d love to hear from you! Send me an email: or leave a comment on this blog.