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Eating disorders are a growing health problem affecting Western and Asian societies. People can die prematurely without receiving proper treatment. Early intervention, however, can facilitate a complete and lasting recovery. Use of self-help approaches for the treatment of eating disorders has produced promising outcomes.

"Smart Eating" is an internet-based self-help programme developed in the Asia-Pacific region to help people improve their eating behaviours and overcome eating disorders. It contains the following components with different features

  1. Healthy eating
    This component provides information on healthy diet, offers dietary assessment and screening on eating problems, and corrects misconceptions in weight loss.
  2. Family education
    This component contains family education materials which help people suffering from eating disorders to gain control over their condition and a message board for families to share their experience. Families can register as family user to gain access to the message board and other information of this programme.

  3. Health assessment
    This component offers self-assessment on i) motivation of change from an eating disorder, ii) psychopathology of eating disorders, iii) psychological traits associated with eating disorders, iv) depression severity, v) anxiety level, and vi) perceived health status. The health assessment performed at regular intervals can help to monitor change over time and evaluate treatment outcome on eating disorders.
  4. Motivational enhancement
    This component contains worksheets to enhance motivation to change and recovery from eating disorders.
  5. Self-help strategies
    This component describes self-help strategies to overcome anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and other specified feeding or eating disorder.
  6. Psychological health promotion
    This component introduces strategies to cope with stress, body image alteration, low self-esteem, depression and anxiety.

The components of the programme on healthy eating and family education are available freely to the general public. Other components can only be accessed by authorized users.

Who can access the "Smart Eating"programme and should use it?

This programme is now under research to examine its effectiveness in improving people's eating problems. The authorized users of the programme are female or male at the age range of 16-65 .

They should fulfil the following criteria:

  1. shown to have eating problems from the result of the SCOFF Questionnaire and the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire available in the programme.
  2. prefer to be certified by a general practitioner or psychiatrist that they are suitable for this self-help programme.
  3. not in a state of a medical emergency caused by complications of their eating disorders
  4. have no major comorbid psychotic disorder

Eligible participants who successfully registered in this programme will be randomly assigned to either an intervention group or a control group. They will receive an email guiding them on how to use the programme.

The control group will have access to the components of healthy eating, family education and health assessment in the programme which will provide automatic feedback. They can benefit from having a good monitoring on their health condition and their treatment progress over a period of 6 months.

The experimental group will have access to all components of the programme. They can use the programme for self-help and they can monitor their progress at regular intervals over a period of 6 months. The programme can be an adjunct to professional treatment.

Registration procedure for authorized users of the programme:

read the information sheet UK information sheet
read the consent form UK consent form
Families of individuals with eating disorders can register as family users from here.

How to use the programme?

For individuals suffering from eating disorders, they can complete the programme in 3 months. They can gain maximum benefit from the "Smart Eating" programme by going through the individual components of the programme in the following recommended pattern:
  1. browse through the information about healthy eating
  2. solicit support from family to overcome an eating disorder and ask them to view the information about family education
  3. complete all health assessment questionnaires
  4. conduct personal assessment on motivation to change using MSCARED and complete the worksheets on motivational enhancement
  5. follow through all the steps in self-help strategies to overcome eating disorders
  6. use different strategies to promote psychological health
  7. complete the health assessment questionnaires and the MSCARED again at 1-month, 3-month and 6-month follow-up to monitor personal progress.