Body composition in patients with inflammatory bowel disease: a population-based study

Am J Gastroenterol. 2003 Jul;98(7):1556-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.2003.07520.x.


Objective: Weight loss and nutritional depletion are common features of inflammatory bowel disease. Our aim was to assess body composition in patients with Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) and to evaluate possible differences between the patient groups and healthy subjects.

Methods: A total of 60 patients with CD, 60 patients with UC, and 60 healthy subjects were investigated. Each group consisted of 24 men and 36 women. Body composition was measured by dual x-ray absorptiometry and Z scores were obtained by comparison to age- and sex-matched normal values.

Results: Bone mineral content and lean body mass were significantly lower in patients with CD compared with patients with UC and healthy subjects. The body composition of CD men was more strongly affected than that of women. UC patients had significantly higher fat mass and body mass index than patients with CD and healthy subjects. There was no difference in the percentage of fat mass between the two patient groups. Corticosteroid treatment and smoking had a negative impact on bone mineral content and lean body mass in CD patients independently of each other.

Conclusions: CD was associated with disturbances in body composition: both bone mineral content and lean body mass were significantly reduced, especially in men with CD. Corticosteroid therapy and smoking had a significant influence on body composition in patients with CD. When studying the effects of inflammatory bowel disease on body composition and nutritional status, patients with CD and UC should be evaluated separately.

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / adverse effects
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Composition*
  • Bone Density / drug effects
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / drug therapy
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / metabolism*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / physiopathology
  • Crohn Disease / drug therapy
  • Crohn Disease / metabolism*
  • Crohn Disease / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Smoking / adverse effects


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones