Since 1980 obesity has more than doubled worldwide. Today more than 500 million adults are obese. Obesity increases the risk of developing other diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and is estimated to account for 2.8 million deaths each year. The two major risk factors of obesity are a high energy intake and a low physical activity level, resulting in an inability to experience hunger and fullness correctly, and a disturbed hormonal balance.
In Sweden it is estimated that 100,000 people suffer from eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa (the archetypical eating disorder), bulimia nervosa and eating disorder not otherwise specified. Eating disorders mostly affect young women and the outcome is poor with traditional treatment methods. Without the correct treatment, eating disorders have detrimental effects on patients’ quality of life, including a 57 fold increased risk of suicide. The risk factors for the development of eating disorders are low energy intake, high physical activity levels and disturbed perception of hunger and fullness.
The SPLENDID approach
SPLENDID’s central assumption is that obesity and eating disorders are at the opposite ends on the same behavioural spectrum, and that both problems arise from long term behavioural disturbances in eating and physical activity. In the past, trials training patients to eat and move in a non-pathological way have been demonstrated as effective in individuals with both obesity and eating disorders[3,4]. Now, sensor technology combined with clinical experience will be used to correct eating and physical activity behaviors in an earlier stage of the development of the problems, preventing them from progressing.