Refeeding patients with moderate and severe eating disorders: A retrospective cohort study

By Dan V. Blalock, PhD

Rabito, G., Blalock, D. V., Beaty, L., Harr, B., Manwaring, J., Rienecke, R. D., Trees, N., & Mehler, P. (2021). Refeeding patients with moderate and severe eating disorders: A retrospective cohort study. International Journal of Nutritional Sciences, 6, 1050.

Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a life-threatening illness that can cause significant medical complications, including the potentially fatal refeeding syndrome.  This study is a description of how the nutrition rehabilitation protocol of 395 adult patients diagnosed with AN and admitted to residential eating disorder treatment at ERC is implemented, how the protocol is sustained throughout a patient’s treatment stay to achieve desired weight gain, and how the patients’ biochemical and clinical progress proceeded between admission and discharge, including laboratory results and body mass index.  Historically, a “start low and go slow” approach to refeeding in terms of caloric intake has been used with patients, although more recently this approach has been questioned.  The current study demonstrated effectiveness in achieving weight restoration goals with aggressive caloric increases without a single incidence of refeeding syndrome.  With close medical supervision, a refeeding approach with consistent calorie increases that is more aggressive than previously recommended appears to be safe.

Written by

Dan V. Blalock, PhD

Dan Blalock is a health services researcher in the Health Services Research & Development Center of Innovation at the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Assistant Consulting Professor in the…
Written by

Jamie Manwaring, PhD

Dr. Manwaring earned her doctorate in psychology from Washington University in St. Louis, where she published peer-reviewed research in the field of eating and weight disorders. Since joining Eating…
Written by

Renee D. Rienecke, PhD, FAED

Renee D. Rienecke, PhD, FAED, is a clinical psychologist and Director of Research for Eating Recovery Center/Pathlight Mood and Anxiety Centers and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of…
Written by

Philip S. Mehler, MD, FACP, FAED, CEDS

Dr. Philip Mehler, prior to joining Eating Recovery Center, served as the Medical Director of Denver Health and Hospital Authority a position he held up until his retirement in 2014. Dr. Mehler began…

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