OBJECTIVE Hyperinsulinaemia has a role in the development of hyperandrogenism and polycystic ovary syndrome in women of normal weight. Polycystic ovaries are common in women with bulimia nervosa and this study aimed to determine whether women with bulimia nervosa are insulin resistant and to examine the relation between Insulin sensitivity and ovarian morphology.
DESIGN A short intravenous insulin tolerance test was used as a direct measure of insulin sensitivity In a group of women with bulimia nervosa and 8 control group.
PATIENTS A series of 12 women with bulimia nervosa and normal weight was compared with a control group of 9 healthy women who had no clinical signs of eating disorder or hyperandrogenism and did not have polycystic ovaries.
MEASUREMENTS Bulimic behaviour was assessed using the BITE (Bulimia Investigation Test, Edinburgh) questionnaire and clinical interviews. Ovarian morphology was assessed using transabdominal ultrasonography. Insulin sensitivity and serum Insulin, fasting glucose, LH, FSH, prolactin, testosterone, androstenedione and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) were measured and compared between the two groups.
RESULTS Ten of the 12 women with bulimia nervosa underwent ovarian ultrasound examination and they all had polycystic ovaries. There was no difference in serum LH, FSH, testosterone, androstenedione or SHBG concentrations between the women with bulimia nervosa and the non-bulimic control group. Fasting blood glucose concentrations were normal in all the women studied and did not differ between the women with bulimia nervosa and the control women. There was also no difference In fasting serum Insulin or Insulin sensitivity between the women with bulimia nervosa and the non-bulimic women.
CONCLUSIONS Bulimia nervosa is not associated with Insulin resistance and chronic hyperinsulinaemia.