European journal of nutrition vol:43 issue:5 pages:288-296
OBJECTIVE: In contrast to anorexia nervosa there is a lack of research on body composition in bulimia nervosa patients. The aim of the study was to examine the body composition in underweight, normal-weight and overweight bulimia nervosa patients in comparison with healthy sedentary females, to assess the changes in body composition and subcutaneous fat after five months treatment, and to analyze the relation between body composition variables. DESIGN: The body composition of 138 female bulimia nervosa patients and 188 healthy sedentary females was studied using underwater weighing and skinfold measurements. RESULTS: A good agreement was found between the results obtained by underwater weighing and skinfold measurements. Normal-weight bulimics and control subjects did not differ significantly in body composition. In comparison with healthy controls, underweight and overweight bulimics showed a lower or higher percentage body fat, respectively. In underweight bulimics the fat mass increased after five months of treatment, whereas it decreased in normal-weight and overweight patients in comparison with control subjects. In bulimics more significant relations between body composition variables were found than in the controls. CONCLUSION: Body composition of bulimia nervosa patients may show great differences related to their (varying) body weight. Future research should take the patients' body weight into account.