Return of Menses in Previously Overweight Patients with Eating Disorders

J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2020 Apr;33(2):133-138. doi: 10.1016/j.jpag.2019.11.002. Epub 2019 Nov 9.


Study objective: Adolescents with eating disorders and a history of overweight present with higher weights, longer duration of disease, but equally severe symptomatology compared with previously normal weight patients. To better delineate treatment goals for this understudied population, we compared weight at menses resumption with premorbid maximum weight among previously overweight and normal weight patients.

Design: Retrospective cohort study.

Setting: Outpatient adolescent medicine clinic at an eating disorder referral center.

Participants: Postmenarchal patients meeting criteria for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition eating disorders. History of overweight was defined as a body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to the 85th percentile or 25 or more.

Interventions and main outcome measures: Weight characteristics at presentation and menses resumption (BMI, BMI z-score, change from maximum weight to presentation weight) RESULTS: Previously overweight patients presented with greater mean weight, longer duration of disease, and higher BMI than previously normal weight patients. No difference was found in rates of amenorrhea at presentation or menses resumption. Previously overweight patients resumed menses at a younger age and higher BMI z-scores. The difference between weight at menses resumption and premorbid maximum weight was greater for previously overweight patients.

Conclusion: Previously overweight patients with eating disorders present differently than their normal-weight peers, so reliance on weight status as a screening criterion might result in underdiagnosis. Although BMI z-scores associated with menses resumption are higher for previously overweight patients, there is no difference in weight gain between presentation and menses resumption and time to menses resumption compared with previously normal-weight patients. Moreover, menses resumption occurred at weights significantly lower than premorbid maximum weight for previously overweight patients, so restoration to highest premorbid weight is not necessary.

Keywords: Anorexia nervosa; Eating and feeding disorders; Eating disorders; Menstruation disturbance.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Amenorrhea / etiology*
  • Amenorrhea / therapy
  • Body Mass Index
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / complications*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Menstruation / physiology*
  • Overweight / complications*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Weight Gain / physiology