Food Choices Count Among Weight-Restored AN Patients

The group who failed had
a lower-fat diet as well.

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

Despite weight restoration, anorexia nervosa (AN) patients risk relapse when their food choices and diet are limited, according to the results of a recent study (J Am Diet Assoc 2011; 111:732). When Columbia University researchers evaluated the types of foods patients were restricting in their diets, they found a significant difference in the total number of different foods selected. Women who relapsed selected fewer foods, while women who did not relapse selected a greater variety of foods.

Janet E. Schebendach, PhD, RD and colleagues did a secondary analysis of data from 41 women with AN between the ages of 18 and 45 years of age who were hospitalized for treatment on the Eating Disorders Service of the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia between June 2002 and July 2005. The women completed a 4-day food record before discharge and were followed for up to one year.

The 41 women were categorized as either treatment successes (n=29) or treatment failures (n=12). Before discharge, the energy intake was similar between the two groups. The failure group consumed significantly less total fat than did the success group and thus the percentage of energy from fat in the diet was significantly lower in the failure group.

Total food choice was similar in both groups but total diet variety varied significantly. The treatment success group selected a different food 71% of the time, while the failure group selected a different food only 58% of the time. Substantial differences in the variety of added sugars and miscellaneous foods (such as pasta sauce) were also observed.

The authors surmised that continued restriction of overall diet variety, purposeful restriction of highly palatable food groups and food monotony resulting from repeated food exposure lead to a decreased energy intake and weight loss during the year after the women were discharged.

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