WA News Letters SCOFF for eating disorders
SCOFF for eating disorders
Written by A/Prof Anthea Fursland
Wednesday, 07 June 2017


Eating disorders are particularly complex because they sit at the interface of physical and mental health. We know that if an eating disorder is treated early – particularly in the first three years – the prognosis greatly improves.

Yet because of the stigma associated with eating disorders – anorexia nervosa is more stigmatised than schizophrenia – sufferers are often reluctant to disclose, and their disorder goes undetected, often for years. Those presenting to the specialist public clinic in Perth, the Centre for Clinical Interventions (CCI), have had their disorder for an average of nearly eight years.

This condition is more common than most people think – one in 20 Australians at any one time will have an eating disorder, and one in eight Australian women will experience one in her lifetime. People from all social and ethnic groups are affected and it’s not just adolescent girls who suffer, but boys, men and transgender individuals, as well as older women.

While alcohol use and smoking are routinely screened, it is rare for GPs to ask patients about their eating habits and any disordered patterns of eating and exercise. Utilising a short screen, the SCOFF, may help GPs identify eating problems.

The SCOFF contains five questions addressing salient features of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa and takes only a few minutes to complete and score. The questions are:

Do you make yourself SICK (vomit) because you feel uncomfortably full?

Do you worry that you have lost CONTROL over how much you eat?

Have you recently lost more than ONE stone (6.3 kgs) in a three-month period?

Do you believe yourself to be FAT when others say you are thin?

Would you say that FOOD dominates your life?

A positive response to two or more questions raises the suspicion of an eating disorder, and warrants further investigation.

For those aged 15 and under, a referral can be made to PMH’s Eating Disorders Program (EDP): 9340 7012 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; over 16, a referral can be made to the Centre for Clinical Interventions (CCI) 9227 4399 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; support and guidance from WA Eating Disorders Outreach & Consultation Service (WAEDOCS) 1300 620 208.

A/Prof Anthea Fursland, Curtin University, Clinical Director of CCI