Eating disorders (ED) are a common problem among young women. Depending upon the criteria, 1%–3% of young women meet full diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder (Hoek & van Hoeken, 2003; Hudson, Hiripi, Pope, & Kessler, 2007), but up to 25% report partial syndromes or symptoms that meet criteria for eating disorder not otherwise specified (Leon, Keel, Klump, & Fulkerson, 1997; Shisslak, Crago, & Estes, 1995).
In recent years, a number of risk factors for ED have been identified. These include frequent dieting and restrictive eating as well as an extreme preoccupation with weight and body shape which are deemed the most important and best empirically proven risk factors for developing full syndrome ED (Jacobi, Hayward, de Zwaan, Kraemer, & Agras, 2004). In turn, structured and/or manualized psychoeducational programmes have been developed and shown to reduce risk factors (Stice, Shaw, & Marti, 2007) as well as, in some high risk groups, the onset of ED (Stice, Shaw, Becker, & Rohde, 2008; Taylor et al., 2006). Such programmes, particularly when they are available electronically, have the potential for widespread dissemination at low cost. Furthermore, electronic programmes can be inexpensively adapted for different cultures by translating text into different languages and using graphics and examples more relevant to the target audience.
Surprisingly, few studies have compared the effects of manualized/structured psychoeducational programmes developed in one country and provided in another. In one of the few studies, the Triple-P Positive Parenting Program, a preventative parenting and family support intervention originally developed in Australia (Sanders, 1999), was found to be equally effective when provided to German, Chinese and Japanese audiences (Nowak & Heinrichs, 2008). Another study, the FRIENDS childhood anxiety prevention programme (Dadds, Spence, Holland, Barrett, & Laurens, 1997), also originally developed in Australia, was found to be equally effective in the USA (Bernstein, Layne, Egan, & Tennison, 2005), the UK (Stallard et al., 2005), the Netherlands (Muris & Mayer, 2007) and Germany (Essau, Conradt, & Ederer, 2004). Promising effects of the FRIENDS programme could be found in all countries, but no systematic analysis of cross-cultural effects was conducted.