Low Body Weight in Anorexia Nervosa: Some Repercussions

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
November/December 2003 Volume 14, Number 6
©2003 Gürze Books

One of the more serious complications of anorexia nervosa (AN) is delayed growth and permanent short stature. According to Dr. Mari Hotta and a team of researchers at Tokyo Medical University, the critical duration of low body weight among young women with AN seems to be one year. After a year, bone mineral loss and the risk of permanent short stature accelerate. When the researchers evaluated the clinical profiles and height records of 14 women who had developed AN before the age of 14, along with body weight and height, there was a significant difference in stature between those who had a body mass index (BMI) lower than 16 kg/m2 for more than a year and those who had such a low BMI for less than a year. Those with longer-term low body weight also had greater loss of bone mineral density (0.857 gm/cm2 versus 732 g/cm2). The researchers stress the importance of helping patients with AN regain weight so they don’t pass the one-year mark with a low BMI. The team reported their results at the International Obesity Conference this summer.

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