Bone density of women who have recovered from anorexia nervosa

Int J Eat Disord. 2000 Jul;28(1):107-12. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1098-108x(200007)28:1<107::aid-eat13>;2-m.


Objective: To examine bone density in 19 women who had previously experienced classical anorexia nervosa from which they had been fully recovered for a mean of 21 years (current characteristics: median age 40.2 years; Eating Attitudes Test [EAT] score 2; body mass index [BMI] 21.1; average 1.8 offspring).

Method: Probands were compared, blindly, in respect of bone density, with 13 control subjects matched for age and sex and with no history of eating disorders. Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) was used to evaluate the bone mineral density (BMD) of the lumbar spine and the head of the femur.

Results: Femur BMD was still significantly less among ex-anorectic sufferers. Two subjects had experienced pathological fractures while anorectic, both having been strenuous exercisers. None appeared to have suffered post illness fractures. BMD at follow-up did not relate to the severity or chronicity of previous anorexia nervosa.

Discussion: Full clinical recovery from anorexia nervosa does not quite confer full establishment of normal bone density. However, pathological fractures are not a feature thereafter, within middle life.

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Amenorrhea / etiology
  • Anorexia Nervosa / complications*
  • Attitude to Health
  • Body Mass Index
  • Bone Density*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Femur / diagnostic imaging
  • Fractures, Spontaneous / diagnostic imaging*
  • Fractures, Spontaneous / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / diagnostic imaging
  • Osteoporosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Osteoporosis / etiology*
  • Radionuclide Imaging
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors