medwireNews: Researchers have found that adolescents with chronic musculoskeletal pain, particularly those with gastrointestinal problems, may be at risk for disordered eating.
Among 228 adolescents with a median age of 14 years who attended a US pediatric rheumatology pain clinic in 2018–2019, almost a quarter (22.4%) had records of disordered eating, including pain-related weight loss or diet changes, vomiting or diarrhea of unknown origin, and stress about body image, weight, or food. Just 15.7% of these 51 individuals had previously received a formal diagnosis of an eating disorder.
In a multivariate analysis, Lauren Pianucci (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA) and colleagues found that adolescents with gastrointestinal comorbidities had a significantly higher risk for disordered eating than those without (odds ratio [OR]=7.44), while other significant predictors included abdominal pain (OR=3.33), anxiety (OR=2.20), and functional disability inventory score (OR=1.05).
These results “indicate that adolescents with chronic pain, especially those who experience gastrointestinal issues, anxiety, and greater functional disability, should be evaluated for disordered eating by the treating clinician in order to ensure timely and appropriate treatment,” write the researchers in Pediatric Rheumatology.
They add that their findings also “indicate the potential benefit of including a dietician or nutritionist in the multidisciplinary [chronic musculoskeletal pain] treatment team.”
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