Bone health in eating disorders

N. Zuckerman-Levin, Z. Hochberg, Y. Latzer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Eating disorders (EDs) put adolescents and young adults at risk for impaired bone health. Low bone mineral density (BMD) with ED is caused by failure to accrue peak bone mass in adolescence and bone loss in young adulthood. Although ED patients diagnosed with bone loss may be asymptomatic, some suffer bone pains and have increased incidence of fractures. Adolescents with ED are prone to increased prevalence of stress fractures, kyphoscoliosis and height loss. The clinical picture of the various EDs involves endocrinopathies that contribute to impaired bone health. Anorexia nervosa (AN) is characterized by low bone turnover, with relatively higher osteoclastic (bone resorptive) than osteoblastic (bone formation) activity. Bone loss in AN occurs in both the trabecular and cortical bones, although the former is more vulnerable. Bone loss in AN has been shown to be influenced by malnutrition and low weight, reduced fat mass, oestrogen and androgen deficiency, glucocorticoid excess, impaired growth hormone-insulin-like growth factor 1 axis, and more. Bone loss in AN may not be completely reversible despite recovery from the illness. Treatment modalities involving hormonal therapies have limited effectiveness, whereas increased caloric intake, weight gain and resumption of menses are essential to improved BMD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-223
Number of pages9
JournalObesity Reviews
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Adolescents
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Bone
  • Eating disorders
  • Endocrinology

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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