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Anorexia Nervosa may Change the Structure of the Bones


New research indicates children and teenagers with even a mild case anorexia nervosa can develop abnormal bone structure before they lose bone density. Once the bone structure is changed, it can cause loss of bone density.

Clinical Study

An imaging technique called dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is used to measure bone mineral density in adolescents with anorexia. This study, researchers assessed bone structure using high-resolution computed tomography (CT) as well as bone mineral density using DXA.

Clinical Findings

They compared the scans of adolescent girls with anorexia and others without. No differences were observed in bone mineral density, but the CT exam showed significant differences in bone structure between the two groups. The researchers found that changes in bone structure occur in anorexic adolescents before decreases in bone density. Once the structure changes the bone density loss follows.


Anorexia affects so many parts of the human body. Without proper “insulation” (fat cells), the bones become more vulnerable to breaks causing even more medical problems for an individual with anorexia.

Source: Presented at the Radiological Society of North America Annual Meeting