Research Article| Volume 24, ISSUE 6, P663-674, October 1988

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Hormone and metabolite plasma levels after oral glucose in bulimia and healthy controls

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      Bulimia patients claim to crave sweets and since as clinical evidence suggests that the food consumed during eating binges often contains large amounts of carbohydrates, hormones involved in carbohydrate metabolism might be affected in bulimia. We therefore performed a 4-hr glucose tolerance test (GTT), using 100 g oral glucose and inquired about attitudes toward sweets. Thirteen female patients, with a mean age of 23.3 years, who had had bulimia from 3 to 7 years but whose binge-eating/vomiting behavior was largely controlled at the time of testing, were compared to 14 age-matched healthy female controls with a mean age of 24.4 years. All bulimic patients and most controls had liked sweets as children and still liked sweets. Significantly more bulimic patients than controls stated they overate on sweets and avoided sweets. Glucose utilization and the insulin, glucagon, growth hormone (GH), and pancreatic poloypeptide (PP) response curves in the bulimic patients were within the normal range. Fasting plasma levels of glucose, insulin, glucagon, GH, cortisol, free fatty acids (FFA), and PP were not different from controls. There was a trend in bulimic patients to have lower plasma FFA levels and higher plasma cortisol levels during the GTT than controls. The findings suggest that, given body weight maintenance and adequate nutrition, patients with bulimia nervosa have normal glucose tolerance and normal hormonal responses following an oral glucose load.
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