Hypophosphatemia secondary to oral refeeding in anorexia nervosa

Int J Eat Disord. 2000 Sep;28(2):181-7. doi: 10.1002/1098-108x(200009)28:2<181::aid-eat7>3.0.co;2-k.


Objective: Hypophosphatemia is a well-known complication of the refeeding syndrome in severe cases of anorexia nervosa, described mostly as a result of refeeding with total parenteral nutrition. Few cases have been reported secondary to either nasogastric or oral refeeding.

Method: The authors present three cases in which hypophosphatemia developed secondary to oral refeeding in severe anorexia nervosa.

Results: All 3 patients developed significant hypophosphatemia, to a low of 0.9 mg/dl in two cases and a low of 1. 7 mg/dl in the third. The first patient received close to 3,000 calories per day, along with intravenous fluids, in the hospital; the other 2 patients ate large amounts for several days at home. Caloric restriction and replenishment with phosphorous resulted in a rapid return of phosphorous values to normal levels.

Discussion: Those who treat severely malnourished patients with eating disorders, whether as inpatients or outpatients, need to be vigilant for the development of the refeeding syndrome, even in patients receiving oral refeeding alone.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anorexia Nervosa / complications
  • Anorexia Nervosa / therapy*
  • Eating*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypophosphatemia / etiology*
  • Nutrition Disorders
  • Nutritional Support
  • Phosphorus / administration & dosage


  • Phosphorus