"medically stable does not necessarily mean an individual is not malnourished"

I asked Carolyn Hodges, director of the Sol Stone Center, her thoughts on hair analysis to diagnose and monitor eating disorders, and specifically on this article about the research:

Researchers discover new way to diagnose anorexia, bulimia

Hodges found the paper left her "frustrated as a clinician."

"The body compensates in so many different ways. There is still so little we know about why some patients wind up severely malnourished and others with little effect despite the same behaviors."

In response to the newspaper article, Hodges counters that there are already are tools that could be used to track nutrition.

"Metabolic testing combined with substrate utilization can show how a body responds to the underfed state. It is understood that when a body is underfed, it often becomes hypometabolic, but how does that body compensate and what body stores does it use to meet its needs? Bodies that use a significant amount of their protein stores are at higher risk for malnutrition. Bodies that use more fat stores will become much thinner, but not as compromised physically."

Hodges does see a value in hair analysis.

"Hair is one of the finest measures of nutritional status...Too often physicians have only the patient's weight and bloodwork to determine if a patient is medically stable. Medically stable does not necessarily mean an individual isn't malnourished. The body compensates in many ways and blood work changes often only occur in the severely malnourished."


  1. I'm afraid all anyone analysing my daughter's hair would find was the residue of five different colouring processes! At the moment she admits her hair is "Snape-like" and is intending to get round to doing something about it - will it be Lilly Potter red, or Malfoy white? Either way I think her doctors better use some other measure of gauging her health.


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