Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Girls with eating disorders slip through the cracks

People with eating problems who do not meet the criteria for a full-blown eating disorder are often classified as Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS). This is sometimes seen as less serious but new research from Stanford University School of Medicine suggests that a diagnosis of EDNOS can mask serious health problems. The researchers studied 1,310 female patients treated for eating disorders at the Lucile Packard's Children's Hospital and assessed them for signs of malnutrition such as a low heart rate, low blood pressure, low body temperature and low levels of potassium and phosphorus. 60% of the EDNOS patients met the medical criteria for hospitalisation and this group was, on average, sicker than patients with full-blown bulimia. The sickest EDNOS patients were those who had dropped more than 25% of their body weight before diagnosis. Although the girls had been overweight when they started they had lost weight very quickly and showed signs of severe malnutrition.

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