Bone changes in adolescent girls with anorexia nervosa

J Adolesc Health. 2006 Dec;39(6):835-41. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2006.09.011.


Purpose: To clarify the effect of chronological age, height, lean tissue mass, and menstrual status on standard reported DXA (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry) measures.

Methods: Growth and DXA data from a retrospective longitudinal cohort of 30 adolescent females with anorexia nervosa (AN) were examined. Areal bone mineral density (aBMD), total body bone mineral content (BMC) and total body bone area were measured and standardized for age, height, lean tissue mass, and total bone area. We then examined the changes in these parameters after 12 months of multidisciplinary treatment.

Results: The subjects had lower BMC and aBMD than the age- and height-matched reference population at baseline, there were further decreases in these parameters with treatment. BMC adjusted for lean tissue mass and bone area were normal at baseline and there was no significant change with treatment. Bone area adjusted for height was low at baseline and decreased despite treatment.

Conclusion: Our data suggest that the low age- and height-adjusted bone mineral content and bone mineral density in females with AN is secondary to poor bone growth leading to low bone area. These subjects had relatively normal bone mineral content for their bone size and lean tissue mass. Changes in bone size were proportional to changes in lean tissue mass.

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adolescent
  • Age of Onset
  • Anorexia Nervosa / epidemiology*
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Bone Density
  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Osteoporosis / diagnosis*
  • Osteoporosis / epidemiology*
  • Retrospective Studies