In anorexia nervosa, even a small increase in abdominal fat is responsible for the appearance of insulin resistance

Annamaria Prioletta, Giovanna Muscogiuri, Gianpio Sorice, Anna Pia Lassandro, Teresa Mezza, Caterina Policola, Enrica Salomone, Clelia Cipolla, Silvia Della Casa, Alfredo Pontecorvi, Andrea Giaccari

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18 Citations (Scopus)


CONTEXT: The aim of treatment in patients affected by anorexia nervosa (AN) is weight recovery. However, during weight gain, anorectic patients' body composition is changed, with an increase in abdominal fat, particularly in the visceral compartment. OBJECTIVE: We hypothesized that changes in body composition, particularly in abdominal fat, are responsible for the variability in insulin sensitivity (IS) in different stages of AN. DESIGN AND MEASUREMENTS: We compared 20 anorectic patients in the acute stage, 19 in the weight-recovery stage and 21 controls. All subjects underwent an oral glucose tolerance test, hyperinsulinaemic euglycaemic clamp and dual energy X-ray absorptiometry to measure body composition. RESULTS: The percentage of trunk fat was higher in weight recovery than in the acute phase (47·7 ± 8·4%vs 34·6 ± 7·6%; P ≤ 0·01) and in the control group (33·4 ± 7·6; P < 0·01 vs weight recovery). Although the recovery group gained weight, their body mass index (BMI) was not statistically different from that of the acute group (14·4 ± 1·1 vs 13·6 ± 1·8 kg/m(2) ). Insulin sensitivity was lower in the weight-recovery group than the acute group (4·7 ± 1·5 vs 7·8 ± 1·6 mg/kg/min; P < 0·01) and controls (7·7 ± 1·4 mg/kg/min; P < 0·01). A linear negative correlation was found between IS and the percentage of abdominal fat in the weight-recovery and acute groups (r = -0·51; P = 0·04 and r = -0·53; P = 0·04 respectively), while IS did not correlate with BMI. CONCLUSION: Although weight-recovery represents the main aim of treatment in AN, refeeding is associated with an increase in abdominal fat which might be responsible of the onset of insulin resistance. As BMI and weight-recovery were associated with impaired IS, they cannot be considered the only aim of treatment of AN.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)202-206
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Endocrinology
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Abdominal Fat
  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adult
  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Body Composition
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Weight Gain
  • Young Adult


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