Anorexia Nervosa
Atypical Anorexia Nervosa
Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

Bone mineral density and estimated hip strength in men with anorexia nervosa, atypical anorexia nervosa and avoidant/ restrictive food intake disorder

Clinical Endocrinology
By Philip S. Mehler, MD, FACP, FAED, CEDS


Objective: Few bone mineral density (BMD) data are available in men with anorexia nervosa (AN), and none in those with atypical AN (ATYP) (AN psychological symptoms without low weight) or avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) (restrictive eating without AN psychological symptoms). We investigated the prevalence and determinants of low BMD and estimated hip strength in men with these disorders.

Design: Cross-sectional: two centres.

Patients: A total of 103 men, 18-63 years: AN (n = 26), ARFID (n = 11), ATYP (n = 18), healthy controls (HC) (n = 48).

Measurements: Body composition, BMD and estimated hip strength (section modulus and buckling ratio) by DXA (Hologic). Serum 25OH vitamin D was quantified, as was daily calcium intake in a subset of subjects.

Results: Mean BMI was lowest in AN and ARFID, higher in ATYP and highest in HC (AN 14.7 ± 1.8, ARFID 15.3 ± 1.5, ATYP 20.6 ± 2.0, HC 23.7 ± 3.3 kg/m2 ) (P < 0.0005). Mean BMD Z-scores at spine and hip were lower in AN and ARFID, but not ATYP, than HC (postero-anterior (PA) spine AN -2.05 ± 1.58, ARFID -1.33 ± 1.21, ATYP -0.59 ± 1.77, HC -0.12 ± 1.17) (P < 0.05). 65% AN, 18% ARFID, 33% ATYP and 6% HC had BMD Z-scores <-2 at ≥1 site (AN and ATYP vs HC, P < 0.01). Mean section modulus Z-scores were lower in AN than HC (P < 0.01). Lower BMI, muscle mass and vitamin D levels (R = 0.33-0.64), as well as longer disease duration (R = -0.51 to -0.58), were associated with lower BMD (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: Men with AN, ARFID and ATYP are at risk for low BMD. Men with these eating disorders who are low weight, or who have low muscle mass, long illness duration and/or vitamin D deficiency, may be at particularly high risk.

Written by

Philip S. Mehler, MD, FACP, FAED, CEDS

Dr. Philip S. Mehler began his career at Denver Health more than 35 years ago and was formerly its Chief of Internal Medicine and then Denver Health’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) until he was promoted…

ACUTE Earns Prestigious Center of Excellence Designation from Anthem
In 2018, the ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders & Severe Malnutrition at Denver Health was honored by Anthem Health as a Center of Excellence for Medical Treatment of Severe and Extreme Eating Disorders. ACUTE is the first medical unit ever to achieve this designation in the field of eating disorders. It comes after a rigorous review process.

Center of Excellence Logo