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Prog Transplant. 2012 Sep;22(3):259-63.

Body image and eating attitudes and behaviors among adolescent heart and lung transplant recipients: a brief report.

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The Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Canada.



Adolescents with chronic illnesses are at increased risk for body image and eating disorders; however, this has not been investigated in solid organ transplant recipients. Adolescent transplant recipients are a vulnerable cohort because of the sustained follow-up and immune-suppressing therapies, which often include steroids and may lead to weight gain and cosmetic changes. Consequences of body dissatisfaction such as disordered behaviors have not been well studied in transplant recipients.


To examine body image, eating attitudes, and behaviors among 28 adolescent thoracic transplant recipients.


Adolescent (11-18 years old) heart and lung transplant recipients a minimum of 3 months after transplant provided informed written consent and completed a standardized questionnaire package about eating attitudes and behaviors; body image and drive for thinness; actual, perceived, and desired weight; and medical and anthropometric information (eg, body mass index) during regular transplant clinics.


Of 25 heart and 3 lung transplant recipients (54% female; median age, 14.5 years; median, 1.6 years after transplant), 37% perceived their current weight as too high or low. Moreover, 81% were dissatisfied with their current weight (38% wanted to lose and 44% wanted to gain weight), yet few engaged in disordered behaviors.


Despite high levels of self-reported body dissatisfaction, low rates of disordered behaviors were observed. Weight dissatisfaction was high (81%) but bidirectional (to lose or to gain weight). Future assessment of disordered eating behaviors should include insidious activities such as medication nonadherence, in addition to traditional weight-control behaviors such as binge eating, strict dieting, or assiduous exercise. Further research will delineate the impact of body dissatisfaction and eating behaviors and outcomes on long-term transplant survivors, older adolescent cohorts, and other recipients of solid organ transplants.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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