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Anorexia Nervosa Comes in All Sizes, Including Plus Size

Adolescents and young adults with anorexia nervosa whose weight is in the healthy, overweight or obese ranges face similar cardiovascular and other health complications as their counterparts with low body mass index (BMI), according to a new study led by researchers at UC San Francisco.  The study, led by Andrea Garber, PhD, RD, chief nutritionist for the UCSF Eating Disorders Program, compared weight loss and illness severity among two groups of patients aged 12 to 24 who had been enrolled in a clinical trial upon admission to the hospital for treatment: 66 with anorexia nervosa, which excluded those who were severely underweight, and 50 heavier patients with so-called atypical anorexia nervosa.

“These findings show that atypical anorexia nervosa is a real illness, not just a lesser form of ‘pre-anorexia nervosa,’” Garber added. “Pediatricians and other primary care providers need to keep a watchful eye for patients with large or rapid weight loss, even if they were heavier to begin with and now appear to be ‘normal.’ These patients are just as ill as those with the traditional diagnosis of anorexia nervosa.”

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