Nav: Home

Experts urge BMI method for calculating weight in kids with eating disorders

January 04, 2012

An exact determination of expected body weight for adolescents based on age, height and gender is critical for diagnosis and management of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia. However, there are no clear guidelines regarding the appropriate method for calculating this weight in children with such disorders.

In a study to be published online Jan. 4, 2012, in the journal Pediatrics, researchers from the University of Chicago, the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Rochester Medical Center compared three common methods for calculating expected body weight of adolescents with eating disorders and found that the body mass index (BMI) percentile method is recommended for clinical and research purposes.

"There are no clear guidelines in the adolescent field," said study author Daniel Le Grange, PhD, professor of psychiatry and Director of the Eating Disorders Program at the University of Chicago. "We set out to do something that is relatively straightforward that hasn't been done before, and that is look at some of the most frequently used methods of calculating weight in the pediatric and adolescent eating disorder populations, and see whether we can come up with a gold standard for clinical as well as for research purposes."

Le Grange and his colleagues analyzed data from adolescents seeking treatment for eating disorders at the University of Chicago. They calculated expected body weights using the BMI method along with two other commonly used measures: the McClaren and Moore methods. The BMI method compares a patient's current BMI to the 50th percentile BMI for a patient of the same age, height and gender according to charts published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That percentage can help determine whether a patient has an eating disorder.

Their analysis showed that of the three, the BMI method was the most useful for children and adolescents of all ages, heights and weights, and could account more accurately for very short and very tall patients as well.

By publishing their study in Pediatrics, the premier journal in the pediatric community, Le Grange hopes to reach a wider audience of pediatricians who may not be as familiar with eating disorders. "Pediatricians are at the forefront of making these diagnoses," he said. "We wanted to make a clear statement to the pediatric and adolescent eating disorder community that we should all talk the same language and move forward in this way."

The study also recommends that researchers cite the method used to calculate expected body weight in their research and stresses the importance of using the term "expected" instead of "ideal" to describe body weight to avoid unrealistic body image expectations in patients with eating disorders. "I think it's a good clear clinical guide, and I hope pediatricians in the community feel they can pick it up and have a handy tool in their clinical practice," Le Grange said.

-end-

The paper, "Calculation of Expected Body Weight in Adolescents with Eating Disorders," appears as an early release online in Pediatrics [doi:10.1542/peds.2008-1536]. Other authors include Peter M. Doyle, Kali Ludwig and Catherine Glunz, University of Chicago; Sonja A. Swanson, Harvard School of Public Health; and Richard E. Kreipe, University of Rochester Medical Center.

Funding for this work was provided by the National Institutes of Health.

For more news from the University of Chicago Medical Center, follow us on Twitter at @UChicagoMed, or visit our Facebook page at facebook.com/UChicagoMed, our research blog at sciencelife.uchospitals.edu or our newsroom at uchospitals.edu/news/.

University of Chicago Medical Center
Public health guidelines aim to lower health risks of cannabis use
Canada's Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines, released today with the endorsement of key medical and public health organizations, provide 10 science-based recommendations to enable cannabis users to reduce their health risks.
Study clusters health behavior groups to broaden public health interventions
A new study led by a University of Kansas researcher has used national health statistics and identified how to cluster seven health behavior groups based on smoking status, alcohol use, physical activity, physician visits and flu vaccination are associated with mortality.
Public health experts celebrate 30 years of CDC's prevention research solutions for communities with health disparities
It has been 30 years since CDC created the Prevention Research Centers (PRC) Program, currently a network of 26 academic institutions across the US dedicated to moving new discoveries into the communities that need them.
Public health experts support federally mandated smoke-free public housing
In response to a new federal rule mandating smoke-free policies in federally funded public housing authorities, three public health experts applaud the efforts of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to protect nonsmoking residents from the harmful effects of tobacco exposure.
The Lancet Public Health: UK soft drinks industry levy estimated to have significant health benefits, especially among children
The UK soft drinks industry levy, due to be introduced in April 2018, is estimated to have significant health benefits, especially among children, according to the first study to estimate its health impact, published in The Lancet Public Health.
Social sciences & health innovations: Making health public
The international conference 'Social Sciences & Health Innovations: Making Health Public' is the third event organized as a collaborative endeavor between Maastricht University, the Netherlands, and Tomsk State University, the Russian Federation, with participation from Siberian State Medical University (the Russian Federation).
Columbia Mailman School Awards Public Health Prize to NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T.
Dr. Mary T. Bassett, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, was awarded the Frank A.
Poor health literacy a public health issue
America's poor record on health literacy is a public health issue, but one that can be fixed -- not by logging onto the internet but by increased interaction with your fellow human beings, a Michigan State University researcher argues.
Despite health law's bow to prevention, US public health funding is dropping: AJPH study
Although the language of the Affordable Care Act emphasizes disease prevention -- for example, mandating insurance coverage of clinical preventive services such as mammograms -- funding for public health programs to prevent disease have actually been declining in recent years.
'Chemsex' needs to become a public health priority
Chemsex -- sex under the influence of illegal drugs -- needs to become a public health priority, argue experts in The BMJ this week.

Best Science Podcasts 2017

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2017. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.

Now Playing: Radiolab

Truth Trolls
Today, a third story of folks relentlessly searching for the truth. But this time, the truth seekers are an unlikely bunch... internet trolls.


Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking School
For most of modern history, humans have placed smaller humans in institutions called schools. But what parts of this model still work? And what must change? This hour, TED speakers rethink education.TED speakers include teacher Tyler DeWitt, social entrepreneur Sal Khan, international education expert Andreas Schleicher, and educator Linda Cliatt-Wayman.