Energy expenditure and body composition in patients with anorexia nervosa.
Blood biochemistry, body composition, and resting energy expenditure were studied in 25 patients with anorexia nervosa admitted to hospital during a period of 18 months. The patients' ages ranged from 12.9 to 17.2 years, and the abnormal feeding history from 3 to 12 months. Blood chemistry values were in the normal range, but fat body mass and lean body mass were reduced and extracellular water volume was expanded beyond normal values. Resting energy expenditure was reduced to 49% to 91% of values predicted by the Harris-Benedict equations. Substrate use after overnight fast indicated an abnormally high use of carbohydrates. Significant correlations were found between extracellular water volume and triceps skin-fold thickness, mid-arm muscle circumference and lean body mass, and substrate use and weight loss as a percentage of initial weight. We suggest that these simple anthropometric measurements can be used to assess and monitor the refeeding of patients with anorexia nervosa.