Girls with eating disorders regain healthy fatty acid levels when their weight normalizes

July 17, 2012

A study of teenage girls with eating disorders has shown that reduced essential fatty acid levels returned to normal once the girls increased their weight to a healthy level.

The research, published in the August issue of Acta Paediatrica, suggests that it is not necessary to give omega-3 polyunsaturated to adolescent girls with eating disorders.

"Essential fatty acid status is altered in eating disorders that result in weight loss" explains co-author Dr Ingemar Swenne from Uppsala University Children's Hospital. "This is important because deficiencies in polyunsaturated omega-3 essential fatty acids have been implicated in the development of depression and other ."

Dr Swenne teamed up with child psychiatrist Dr Agneta Rosling, to analyse the of 24 who had suffered from eating disorders and had lost an average of 10kgs. Their average age at the start of the one-year study was 14.3 years.

The researchers compared the results from the eating disorders group with 39 normal weight girls from local schools.

Key findings included:

  • The girls in the eating disorder group had an average of 15 at the start of the study and this had risen to 19 at the one-year follow- up. This compared to the 21.2 recorded in the control group of the same age.
  • Seventeen of the girls had and the remaining seven were classified as having an unspecified eating disorder.
  • Twelve had depression at the start of the study, but this had fallen to two at follow-up. Only two were menstruating at the start of the study, but this had risen to 16 at follow-up.
  • The girls in the eating disorder group showed marked differences in the levels of fatty acids in their blood cells at the start of the study, compared to the girls in the control group. In particular they had lower levels of essential omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Once the girls' weight normalised, the differences between the two groups became less marked and the girls in the eating disorder group regained more healthy omega-3 fatty .
"It is clear from our study that once the girls attending the Eating Disorders Unit received adequate nutrition, normalised their eating behaviours and gained weight, their metabolism and endocrine function improved" concludes co-author Dr Agneta Rosling.

"This was sufficient to ensure that their essential fatty acid status improved and, in particular, their omega-3 levels recovered to a more healthy level.

"We believe that this research indicates that providing girls with eating disorders with omega-3 supplements is unnecessary if they normalise their eating behaviour and weight."

Explore further: Improving body satisfaction can help prevent eating disorders and obesity

More information: Omega-3 essential fatty acid status is improved during nutritional rehabilitation of adolescent girls with eating disorders and weight loss. Swenne et al. Acta Paediatrica. 101, pp. 858-861. (2012). DOI:10.1111/j.1651-2227.2012.02684.x

Related Stories

Improving body satisfaction can help prevent eating disorders and obesity

May 11, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- In a study that examined the relationship between body dissatisfaction, body mass index (BMI) and binge eating in overweight and obese adolescent girls, Kendrin R. Sonneville, ScD, RD, researcher ...

Eating fish, chicken, nuts may lower risk of Alzheimer's disease

May 4, 2012
A new study suggests that eating foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, chicken, salad dressing and nuts, may be associated with lower blood levels of a protein related to Alzheimer's disease and memory problems. ...

Recommended for you

School, health and behavior suffer when children have TV, video games in bedroom

September 26, 2017
A new Iowa State University study is one of the first to demonstrate the consequences of allowing children to have a TV or video game system in their bedroom.

Influence of C-section, formula feeding and antibiotics on infant gut microbiome

September 26, 2017
A new analytical approach, described in open-access journal Frontiers in Pediatrics, shows how different interventions - cesarean section, formula feeding, and antibiotics - can alter an infant's developing gut microbiome.

Are children who see movie characters use guns more likely to use them?

September 25, 2017
Children who watched a PG-rated movie clip containing guns played with a disabled real gun longer and pulled the trigger more often than children who saw the same movie not containing guns, according to the results of a randomized ...

Asthma drug tied to nightmares, depression

September 20, 2017
(HealthDay)—The asthma medication Singulair (montelukast) appears linked to neuropsychiatric side effects, such as depression, aggression, nightmares and headaches, according to a new review by Dutch researchers.

Parents not confident schools can assist child with chronic disease, mental health

September 18, 2017
If your child had an asthma attack during the school day, would school personnel know how to respond?

Premature infants may get metabolic boost from mom's breast milk

September 14, 2017
The breast milk of mothers with premature babies has different amounts of microRNA than that of mothers with babies born at term, which may help premature babies catch up in growth and development, according to researchers.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.