Are the general equations to predict BMR applicable to patients with anorexia nervosa?

M. Marra, A. Polito, E. De Filippo, M. Cuzzolaro, D. Ciarapica, F. Contaldo, L. Scalfi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: To determine whether the general equations to predict basal metabolic rate (BMR) can be reliably applied to female anorectics. Individuals and Methods: Two hundred and thirty-seven female patients with anorexia nervosa (AN) were divided into an adolescent group [n=43, 13-17 yrs, 39.3±5.0 kg, body mass index (BMI) (weight/height2) 15.5±1.8 kg/m 2] and a young-adult group (n=194, 18-40 yrs, 40.5±6A kg, BMI 15.6±1.9 kg/m2). BMR values determined by indirect calorimetry were compared with those predicted according to either the WHO/FAO/UNU or the Harris-Benedict general equations, or using the Schebendach correction formula (proposed for adjusting the Harris-Benedict estimates in anorectics). Results: Measured BMR was 3658±665 kJ/day in the adolescent and 3907±760 kJ/day in the young-adult patients. In the adolescent group, the differences between predicted and measured values were (mean±SD) 1466±529 kJ/day (+44±21%) for WHO/FAO/UNU, 1587±552 kJ/day (+47±23%) for the Harris-Benedict and -20±510 kJ/day for the Schebendach (+1±13%), while in the young-adult group the corresponding values were 696±570 kJ/day (+24±24%), 1252±644 kJ/day (+37±27%) and -430±640 kJ/day (-9+16%). The bias was negatively associated with weight and BMI in both groups when using the WHO/FAO/UNU and Harris-Benedict equations, and with age in the young-adult group for the Harris-Benedict and Schebendach equations. Conclusions: The WHO/FAO/UNU and Harris-Benedict equations greatly overestimate BMR in AN. Accurate estimation is to some extent dependent on individual characteristics such as age, weight or BMI. The Schebendach correction formula accurately predicts BMR in female adolescents, but not in young adult women with AN.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-59
Number of pages7
JournalEating and Weight Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2002


  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Basal metabolic rate
  • Eating disorders
  • Energy expenditure
  • Predictive equations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology


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