Body Weight is Only One Factor in Amenorrheic AN Patients

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
May/June 2011 Volume 22, Number 3
©2011 Gürze Books

Amenorrhea is common among eating disorders patients, regardless of their weight, according to a study by A. E. Payne and colleagues from Stanford University School of Medicine and the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. The researchers presented their findings at the April 14-16 meeting of the North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology in Chicago. The authors’ study compared clinical and behavioral characteristics of low- and normal-weight teens and young adults in treatment for eating disorders at return of menses or at the last clinic appointment. The authors also reviewed the clinical records of all 334 females 12 through 23 years of age being treated for AN (45%), BN (14.3%), or EDNOS (38.5%) who reported amenorrhea upon presentation to an eating disorders treatment center. Of the 262 AN patients, 157 had amenorrhea, and 105 had normal menses. Forty percent of those with amenorrhea were of normal weight (weight >85% of ideal body weight, or %IBW). More than a third of the young women engaged in binge eating or purging, and 35.5% used excessive exercise to control their weight. Sixty of the 157 AN patients with amenorrhea had return of menses (ROM) and 97 (62% of those who presented with amenorrhea) remained amenorrheic. Ninety-three percent of the girls with ROM and 56% of those with continued amenorrhea were of normal weight. As the authors had hypothesized, patients with ROM were more likely to weigh more at ROM (96% IBW versus 87.2%IBW) and were less likely to report binge eating or purging in the month before ROM. The results underscore that defining weight in terms of %IBW is at best a crude marker.

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