Home > Risks & Warnings > Osteoporosis and Eating Disorders

Osteoporosis and Eating Disorders

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 17 May 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Eating Disorders anorexia bulimia

Osteoporosis, a disease which weakens the bones and makes them more susceptible to breaks, is just one of the physical health effects of an eating disorder. Anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder all wreak havoc on the body, and because they encourage nutritional deficiencies they leave individuals open to a wide array of health problems. In the case of osteoporosis, a lack of calcium leads to "soft" bones. Fortunately, when eating disorders are treated and healthy eating is resumed, the effects of osteoporosis can be somewhat - though not often entirely - reversed.

Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones in which the bone mineral density is reduced. Literally "osteoporosis" translates to "porous bones," which is what happens when the mineral density is reduced and the small holes within bones (usually filled with blood vessels and bone marrow) become bigger and make the bone more fragile to bends and breaks.

Though osteoporosis causes damage to the entire skeleton, it is usually the bones in the wrists, spine and hip that break the most often. Unfortunately, until a bone breaks, many people aren't even aware that they are suffering from osteoporosis. Thankfully osteoporosis is usually an entirely preventable disease. Healthy eating, including a diet rich in foods containing calcium, works to strengthen bones and prevent them from disease. Though the recommended daily intake of calcium differs according to age and gender, foods rich in calcium will likely never harm anyone. Milk, cheese, spinach, broccoli and some forms of fish, such as salmon, all offer good amounts of calcium and should be incorporated into a daily diet.

Osteoporosis and Eating Disorders
Eating disorders that last even just one year bring with them an increased risk of osteoporosis, or the reduction of bone mineral density. This risk is not simply far in the future either - some teenagers who suffer from eating disorders will even be diagnosed with osteoporosis in their 20s! This loss of bone mineral density is the result of both nutritional deficiencies and the loss of menstrual periods in young women with eating disorders. When menstrual periods cease, oestrogen production subsides and thus presents a further risk to bone health. Unfortunately, younger individuals run the risk of more than just a reduction of bone mineral density but a failure to reach peak levels as well. This is a double negative for bone health.

Osteoporosis can be treated in younger people both by helping them regain weight and ingest recommended daily amounts of vitamins and minerals, and by re-introducing oestrogen in women, possibly by the administration of oral contraceptives (birth control pills) that will help to even out hormones after a period of several months. Unfortunately once bone mineral density has decreased it may never recover to appropriate levels and may always lag behind what would be expected in healthy individuals for their ages.

Eating disorders bring with them a host of physical side effects including osteoporosis or the reduction of bone mineral density. Weakened bones which are more easily susceptible to breaks is the result. Fortunately much of the damage caused to bones by eating disorders can be reversed, but not all of it can be overcome. For further information on eating disorders and their effects on physical health, speak to a GP or contact the Eating Disorders Association and/or National Centre for Eating Disorders.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Stephanie - Your Question:
I have been bulemic for approximately 21 years. I’ve told several doctors but none seem to address the issue. I believe that my chronic fatigue, chronic headaches, chronic sleep problems, and chronic joint and muscle pain is a result of this disease. Is there help or treatment for this obvious mental disease??? I fear I will die before someone addresses my issues! Help, Stephanie

Our Response:
Your GP will be able to help you. Please also see the link here which you can get help and advice from, even if it is just talking to someone. Twenty-one years is a long time to go without having treatment, you may need to push the issue with your GP, if you haven't previously. There is treatment you can get and yes, the symptoms you say could all be the result of your bulemia. You really do need to reach out and get the help you so obviously need.
EatingDisorderExpert - 18-May-18 @ 11:23 AM
I have been bulemic for approximately 21 years. I’ve told several doctors but none seem to address the issue. I believe that my chronic fatigue, chronic headaches, chronic sleep problems, and chronic joint and muscle pain is a result of this disease. Is there help or treatment for this obvious mental disease??? I fear I will die before someone addresses my issues! Help, Stephanie
Stephanie - 17-May-18 @ 4:21 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Lea
    Re: Pica Disorder
    I like to eat the dry wall in my basement
    20 October 2019
  • Gotchu
    Re: Pica Disorder
    Guys I understand your problem. But you need to think about it. Is eating these things worth it for your bad health? Not even that, I never think…
    13 October 2019
  • Nintendhoe
    Re: Pica Disorder
    I gotta bad problem. I eat baking soda. And Talcum powder. And laundry powder. And cocaine. I just like white powders. I like bitter things and salty…
    10 October 2019
  • Imani
    Re: Pica Disorder
    I crave chalk or dirt. Anything with an earthy taste or dry crumbly texture of chalk. I’ve become addicted to watching those floral foam crushing…
    3 October 2019
  • windy
    Re: Stomach Problems for Anorexics and Bulimics
    I have a daughter Emily who has anorexia since she was 8 she is getting severe stomach pains and has been to A…
    29 September 2019
  • Sarah
    Re: Eating by Texture
    I've never been able to eat onions or peppers and anything mushy comes right back up I can eat raw tomatoes but not cooked or canned tomatoes my…
    19 September 2019
  • Ezzy
    Re: Pica Disorder
    Errr ive only just saw this... I like to chew of towels. You know the fresh kind that have been washed and dried. I have no idea why but it tastes…
    17 September 2019
  • kalie
    Re: Pica Disorder
    my mom had pica ever since she was little, she would eat her wall and chalk. i didnt know that but one day i started craving coal, then moved on to…
    15 September 2019
  • Nini
    Re: Pica Disorder
    I’m addicted to eating these rocks my mom bought for the backyard in my garage. They are pink rocks, & some are chewable. I love the taste. The rocks…
    2 September 2019
  • Lily
    Re: The Menstrual Cycle and Eating Disorders
    I've had disordered eating and my therapist believes I have an eating disorder, I have a BMI of 15.4 but I still…
    31 August 2019