What Are the Effects of Restrictive Eating Disorders on Growth and Puberty and Are Effects Permanent? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
In a systematic review of the effects of restrictive eating disorders on growth and puberty published in the Journal of Adolescent Health Josephine Neale and colleagues examined 27 studies. The studies included children and young people under 18 years of age or studies in adults where the subjects were known to have had an eating disorder in childhood or adolescence. They found that, whilst growth and pubertal delay were commonly reported, evidence for catch-up growth found in the majority. Some did not catch up during the study periods and a meta-analysis of 459 subjects (213 with anorexia nervosa and 246 controls) found little difference in height at baseline of follow up. They concluded that restrictive EDs are at risk of growth impairment and pubertal delay, though potentially reversible. Younger age and longer duration of illness are potential risks for growth delay; weight gain appears protective for catch-up growth although there was little data in males. They surmise that weight restoration should be encouraged to allow opportunity for catch-up growth and development.