Weight requirements for catch-up growth in girls with eating disorders and onset of weight loss before menarche




The current study investigated catch-up in stature in girls with eating disorders and onset of weight loss and stunting of growth before menarche.


Forty-six girls were followed with measurements of weight and stature for 2–5 years after presentation.


At presentation, the girls were stunted by 0.48 ± 0.57 standard deviation scores (SDS) for height compared with their prepubertal growth track. Maximal stunting of 0.72 ± 0.68 SDS was reached after 1 year of treatment despite weight gain. Catch-up growth, that is, increase in height SDS, was achieved during the second to fourth years. Thirty-four girls who reached menarche had normalized weight and reached their prepubertal growth track. In a regression analysis, growth in stature during a year of treatment could be predicted to 50% by age, the weight gain that year, the weight gain the preceding year, and by the weight level at the start of the year. Catch-up growth during a year could be predicted to 26% by the weight gain that year and the weight gain the preceding year.


Catch-up growth is possible in girls with eating disorders of premenarcheal onset. Weight gain is necessary for catch-up growth and must start before the ability to grow is lost with age. Once weight gain starts, the full effect on growth in stature takes several years to evolve. © 2005 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.