Higher-calorie diets could lead to a speedier recovery in patients with anorexia nervosa

A team at the University of California, San Francisco conducted the largest randomized clinical trial of refeeding approaches.

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Revising the standard-of-care for patients with eating disorders to implement higher-calorie diets could lead to a speedier recovery, new research suggests.

As published in JAMA Pediatrics, a research group at the University of California, San Francisco conducted the largest randomized clinical trial of refeeding approaches.

In the study, comprised of 111 participants, 51 adolescents and adults in early-adulthood consumed at least 1,400 calories on the first day, while another group of 60 adolescents and young adults consumed 2,000 calories on the first day.

For both groups, their calorie intake was increased each day by 200 and any food not consumed was replaced with a liquid formula equivalent to the number of calories they would have consumed.

The average age was 16 and almost all of the participants were female. Weight and blood measurements of electrolytes were measured during evaluations.

Based on their findings, the medical complications that arose during their admissions were restored faster among the patients in the higher-calorie group.

“We wanted to see if increased calories would improve these outcomes and still maintain safety,” the co-authors stated in a news release.

“Our inpatient programs are operating at maximum capacity; the isolation, uncertainty and anxiety of COVID-19 is amplified for our patients. We believe that this faster and more efficacious approach will reduce the upheaval of hospitalization during an already stressful time.”

Image courtesy of Dima Sidelnikov