Medindia
Advertisement

Third of Hospitalized Adolescents With Life-threatening Anorexia are Not Thin

by Colleen Fleiss on December 5, 2018 at 8:12 AM

Third of Hospitalized Adolescents With Life-threatening Anorexia are Not Thin
A study of patients with anorexia nervosa revealed that 31 percent had all the cognitive features and physical complications of the disease without being underweight.

Her study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, looked at 171 patients aged 12-19 admitted to the Royal Children's Hospital's eating disorder program in Melbourne, Australia between 2005-2013 suffering anorexia nervosa. She found:
Advertisement

51 of the patients were "atypical" with significant eating disorder psychopathology, but not underweight

Rather than being underweight, greater weight loss was associated with life threateningly low pulse rates, a complication of starvation in anorexia nervosa that requires admission
Advertisement

Those with atypical anorexia nervosa also suffered low blood pressure and deranged blood electrolytes

Importantly, no complication was independently associated with underweight, the hallmark of anorexia

No participant in the study was being monitored by a health professional for weight loss, their relationship with food, or their methods of losing weight.

Mrs Whitelaw said atypical patients may have been encouraged by family or health professionals to lose weight, which frequently resulted in positive re-enforcement and encouragement about how good they looked, praise for losing weight and the ability to wear trendier clothes, which spurred them on to try to lose more weight.

Atypical anorexia nervosa patients might have lost about a quarter of their body weight, but the body could go into "starvation mode" if as little as 10 per cent of weight was lost quickly, causing the heart rate to slow to preserve energy.

"If adolescents lose weight, it doesn't matter what weight they are, a health professional should monitor them to check that weight loss is appropriate and if so, that it is done gradually. They should also monitor the adolescent's dietary intake and relationship with food and exercise for signs the patient was spiralling into an eating disorder. Following large amounts of weight loss, careful medical assessment is also recommended," Mrs Whitelaw said.

Once a person entered starvation mode the only way to increase the heart rate was re-feeding and weight gain, which in this cohort, required hospitalisation.

Mrs Whitelaw said people could understand an extremely thin patient needing to gain weight, but it was often a shock to individuals and families when someone within or above the healthy weight range needed to gain weight.

Mrs Whitelaw said atypical anorexia nervosa was commonly perceived as less severe than anorexia nervosa, but her research showed the health consequences could be just as dangerous and it was time to change the current diagnostic criteria which stated those with anorexia nervosa must be underweight.

"What we are seeing now is that you can have a healthy body weight but be just as sick as someone with typical anorexia nervosa, including having the same thoughts about eating and food," she said. "We need to redefine anorexia because an increasing proportion of anorexia nervosa patients are atypical and more difficult to recognise. The definition should refer to weight loss, not just underweight."

Mrs Whitelaw said: "The face of eating disorders is changing against a backdrop of increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity. Families, teachers, sports coaches and others interacting with young people should not delay seeking help for adolescents with worrying eating patterns if they have lost weight, even if they are not underweight."

Source: Eurekalert
Advertisement

Advertisement
News A-Z
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
News Category
What's New on Medindia
'Hybrid Immunity' may Help Elude COVID-19 Pandemic
Stroop Effect
Plant-Based Diet may Reduce the Risk of COVID-19
View all

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
Anorexia Nervosa Quiz on Anorexia / Bulimia Cachexia Gastrointestinal bleeding (GI Bleed) 

Recommended Reading
Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder most commonly found among teenage girls. Anorexia nervosa is ...
Test Your Knowledge on Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are more of a psychiatric disorder that cause severe disturbances to a person's ......
Reward System in the Brain may Cause Anorexia Nervosa
Model on how brain reward response may impact anorexia nervosa has been developed by a research ......
Brains of Anorexia Nervosa Patients Remain Altered Even After Treatment
Brain scans of anorexia nervosa patients have implicated central reward circuits that govern ......
Cachexia
Cachexia refers to severe muscle and fat loss, anorexia and marked weight loss due to an underlying ...
Gastrointestinal Bleeding (GI Bleed)
Gastrointestinal Bleeding refers to hemorrhage that occurs from one or more portions of the digestiv...

Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

© All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2021

This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use