The Scale May Not Be Best For Tracking Weight In Kids With ED

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If you’re the parent of a child with an eating disorder, you already know how difficult it can be to try to monitor their weight. Every attempt to get them on a scale can be a battle which adds tension to the already stressful situation. Thankfully, researchers say there may be a better method for monitoring weight changes in adolescents with eating disorders.

According to a study published recently in the journal Eating Behaviors, less invasive ways of monitoring weight can be as helpful for tracking weight as traditional methods without the anxiety of weigh-ins.

In particular, they favor a method measuring “Mid-upper Arm Circumference” (MUAC) which tracks changes in mid-upper arm measurement patterns which correspond with bodily weight changes.

The difficulty of treating younger patients with eating disorders is well documented, with monitoring being one of the most contentious aspects of recovery in homes of a person with an eating disorder. Children often grow to resent methods like scale weigh-ins, which can make monitoring difficult.

To solve this problem, the researchers investigated alternative options for monitoring including MUAC, which is often used by Community Health Workers to measure the weight of malnourished children in impoverished areas.

In order to properly evaluate the effectiveness of MUAC, the researchers had to first establish whether the measurement of mid-upper arm circumference corresponded properly with direct measures of weight. They then had to assess adolescents’ self-reported feelings towards assessments using MUAC, scale weighing, and skinfold testing.

For the study, the researchers evaluated 40 adolescent females diagnosed with an eating disorder. Over the course of 8 weeks of eating disorder treatment, each participant was asked to document their weight weekly using MUAC measurements, scales, and skinfold tests. The researchers then asked each participant to report their personal feelings from each test.

According to the results, MUAC was able to accurately track changes in a similar pattern as weight in female adolescents being treated for eating disorders and were favored by the participants. However, the findings suggest the most accurate course may involve using both MUAC monitoring with scale weigh-ins, as discrepancies between changes in weight and MUAC can help detect weight falsification.

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