Previous studies demonstrate that body composition (specifically the amount of body fat) influences autonomic function. The autonomic nervous system is divided into two branches: the sympathetic nervous system prepares the body for energetic action (e.g., increases in heart rate and blood pressure) while the parasympathetic nervous system has antagonistic actions promoting relaxation. Overweight individuals tend to demonstrate increased sympathetic activation; conversely, augmented parasympathetic activity has been shown in individuals with a low percentage of body fat. Similarly, evidence suggests an increase in parasympathetic tone may occur in women with bulimia nervosa, who may also demonstrate a decreased energy availability compared with healthy controls. The purpose of this study was to compare body composition and dietary energy availability in women with bulimia nervosa (n=10), women who were symptomatic for bulimia nervosa but did not meet the strict diagnostic criteria (n=10), and healthy controls (n=10), and to determine if any observed differences in these parameters might influence autonomic function. Body composition (percent body fat) was assessed via a standardized predictive equation using a 7-site skinfold measurement protocol. Energy intake, total daily energy expenditure, and energy availability were calculated based upon three-day dietary intake and physical activity logs completed by each subject. Autonomic function was assessed by spectral analysis of electrocardiogram data obtained at rest. The results of this study will be presented.
Brittney Bishop, ’12
MacKenzie Dreeszen, ’14
Iowa City, IA
Majors: Kinesiology, Psychology
Jennifer Rogers Fagenbaum
Sponsor: Jennifer Rogers Fagenbaum