NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Adolescent boys with anorexia have low bone mineral density (BMD) at multiple sites, researchers report. This is worrying because adolescence is a critical time for attaining peak bone mass, they point out.

“Although primarily a disease in females, anorexia nervosa is being increasingly recognized in males,” the research team notes in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

However, there’s little information about the bone health of teenage boys with anorexia, say Dr. Madhusmita Misra, from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, and colleagues.

That prompted them to compare 17 boys with anorexia and 17 “controls” without the condition, ages 12 to 19 years old. The researchers found BMD was markedly lower at the spine, hip, thighbone, and whole body in those with anorexia nervosa, compared with controls of the same age.

These findings “raise concerns regarding bone health and fracture risk in later life,” Misra’s group writes.

As expected, compared with the controls, boys with anorexia nervosa had a lower body mass index (BMI) and lower levels of testosterone.

“Because BMI is an important predictor of low BMD, emphasizing weight recovery is critical,” the investigators conclude.

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, August 2008.