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Nutrition Noteworthy

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Long Term Health Risks Due to Impaired Nutrition in Women with a Past History of Bulimia Nervosa


Bulimia nervosa serves as a disease model for a variety of physiological problems associated with improper nutritional intake. Although there is extensive research on women who are actively bulimic, very little has been done to follow-up on women who have overcome bulimia. Amennorhea, anemia, constipation, severe dehydration, arrhythmias, osteoporosis, and diabetes can all be health risks due to impaired nutrition while a patient is bulimic. Fortunately, some of the health problems caused by impaired nutrition in women with bulimia nervosa do not persist after recovery. Once a woman is no longer regularly bingeing and purging, problems such as amenorrhea, anemia, severe dehydration, and acute heart dysrhythmias are no longer big concerns. However, because of their impaired nutrition, past bulimics may remain at increased risk for osteoporosis, reproductive problems, diabetes, and cholesterol elevation. Even after the ritual of bingeing and compensation has been overcome, it is important for health care providers to monitor the long-standing effects of a past history of bulimia in their patients. Longitudinal studies in this recovered population are lacking, and really should be conducted to truly assess what health risks these women have because of their improper nutrition in the past.

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