Early Weight Gain and Treatment Outcome among Teens with Anorexia Nervosa

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
May/June Volume 25, Number 3
©2014 iaedp

Early partial symptomatic response can be a very useful predictor of long-term treatment outcome. For example, studies have shown this pattern with cognitive behavioral therapy for bulimia nervosa. Results of a collaborative study at Stanford University and the University of Chicago suggest that teens with anorexia nervosa (AN) treated either with family-based treatment (FBT) or individual adolescent supportive psychotherapy (AFT) and who show early weight gain are more likely to be in remission at the end of treatment. Dr. Erin Accurso, from the University of Chicago, reported at the 2014 International Conference on Eating Disorders in New York City that degree of weight gain quite early in treatment (by session 3 or 4) predicted remission by the end of treatment. Participants in the study included 121 adolescents with AN who were randomly assigned to receive FBT (n=61) or AFT (n=60). The researchers gauged treatment response using percent of expected body weight (EBW) and the global score on the Eating Disorder Examination. The earliest predictor of remission at end of treatment was a gain of 5.8 lb by session 3 among those receiving FBT and a gain of 7.1 lb by session 4 among those receiving AFT. Early weight gain did not predict long-term follow-up outcome for either group.   

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