Uric acid levels in adult patients with severe eating disorders

Eating Disorders
By Philip S. Mehler, MD, FACP, FAED, CEDS Maryrose Bauschka, MD, CEDS


Objective: To investigate serum uric acid (UA) levels in patients with extreme forms of eating disorders, at admission and discharge, following weeks of nutritional rehabilitation and weight restoration.

Method: This observational study enrolled 160 patients diagnosed with anorexia nervosa restricting subtype (AN-R), AN binge-purge subtype (AN-BP), or avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID). Serum UA levels were drawn on admission and discharge.

Results: Most of the cohorts were admitted with serum UA levels on the lower end of normal. Mean serum uric level for women was 4.3 mg/dl (SD: 2.3). Patients diagnosed with AN-BP had significantly higher UA levels on admission compared to patients with AN-R and ARFID; p < .0001, η2 = 0.13. High UA levels positively correlated with purging and admission serum blood urea nitrogen (r = .5, p = .009).

Discussion: Serum UA levels tended to be in the low-normal range in most patients with severe AN-R, but not in AN-BP. However, levels did increase with nutritional intake and weight gain. There may be clinical value in checking UA levels on admission for patients with eating disorders.

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…
Written by

Maryrose Bauschka, MD, CEDS

Dr. Maryrose Bauschka is a board-certified psychiatrist who works with ACUTE’s multidisciplinary treatment team to deliver direct psychiatric care and medication management for patients touched by the…

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.

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