Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Anorexia Nervosa Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Hospitalization for Anorexia Can Do More Harm Than Good

By
WebMD Health News

Feb. 24, 2000 (Washington) -- Hospitals, usually places of healing, can be just the opposite for teen-agers struggling with anorexia nervosa, a common and often dangerous eating disorder. A British study found that teen-agers who were hospitalized fared far worse than those who were not, and experts in the U.S. tell WebMD that inpatient care rarely benefits those with anorexia.

Anorexia nervosa may afflict up to 3% of all teen-agers. Those affected have a distorted body image, believing they are fat even though they may be thin. They often refuse to eat and have an abnormal fear of gaining weight. Over time, anorexics lose extreme amounts of weight and develop malnutrition. Some girls even stop having menstrual periods.

Although anorexia occurs in adolescents and young adults, the disorder may be lifelong. Treatment involves improving weight and nutrition as well as long-term psychological and social therapy.

Researchers at the University of Liverpool compared the cases of 40 teen-age girls who had been hospitalized for anorexia with those of four male and 31 female adolescents who had not had an inpatient stay for the disorder. The patients were 14-15 years old, on average. All were followed for two to seven years, and they and their families were interviewed. "Outcome was defined as good if weight was maintained about 85%, menstruation had resumed and social functioning was satisfactory," writes study author S.G. Gowers, a professor of adolescent psychiatry.

Good results were reported for 62% of adolescents who were never hospitalized, but that dropped to 14% for those who had been in a hospital for their illness, and two of those who had been hospitalized died. After studying different variables, the researchers concluded that being in the hospital was linked to a poorer prognosis for these teen-agers.

"The finding that inpatient treatment is associated with poor outcome in anorexia nervosa is not new, but it is good that Gowers [and others] have reopened the issue," says George Hsu, MD, director of the Eating Disorders Program at New England Medical Center and a professor of psychiatry at Tufts University, both in Boston. Hsu, who reviewed the study for WebMD, adds that his own research found that hospitalization was linked to poor outcomes at four to 10 years after the start of the illness.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

Anorexia Nervosa Symptoms
Article
two hands together
Article
 
family in hand
Article
Doctor holding tablet PC talking to patient
Article
 
Anorexia Nervosa What Happens
Article
Woman at desk looking distracted
Article
 
watching late noght tv
Article
Distressed young woman with dna background
Article
 

WebMD Special Sections