British Journal of Nutrition

Short Communication

Analysis of fat and muscle mass in patients with inflammatory bowel disease during remission and active phase

Raquel Rochaa1 c1, Genoile Oliveira Santanaa2, Neogélia Almeidaa2 and Andre Castro Lyraa2

a1 Department of Sciences of Nutrition, School of Nutrition, Federal University of Bahia, Avenida Araújo Pinho, 32, Canela 40110-150, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

a2 Gastroenterology Unit, University Hospital Professor Edgard Santos, Federal University of Bahia, Rua Augusto Viana sn/2° andar, Canela 40110-060, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is often associated with malnutrition. The aim of this study was to compare the body composition of outpatients with IBD during remission and active phase. In order to evaluate disease activity we used Crohn's Disease Activity Index for Crohn's disease (CD) patients and Lichtiger's Index for ulcerative colitis (UC) patients. All patients underwent the analysis of BMI, arm muscle area (AMA) and triceps plus subscapula skinfold thickness (TST+SST) to identify total, muscle and fat mass, respectively. In total 102 patients were evaluated (CD, n 50; UC, n 52) and the majority was young women. Malnutrition according to BMI was found in 14·0 % of patients with CD and 5·7 % of UC patients. Muscle mass depletion was detected in more than half of the CD and UC patients. The BMI, TST+SST and AMA values were lower in the active phase only in CD patients (P < 0·05). Fat mass depletion was associated with active phase in both CD and UC patients. Body composition parameters obtained using BMI, TST+SST and AMA were not correlated with the presence of fistula in CD patients (P>0·05). In conclusion, patients without signs of malnutrition had fat mass depletion especially in the active phase and muscle mass depletion occurred both in CD and UC patients.

(Received January 25 2008)

(Revised May 23 2008)

(Accepted June 10 2008)

(Online publication July 17 2008)


c1 Corresponding author: Dr Raquel Rocha, fax +55 71 3235 0498, email


Abbreviations: AMA, arm muscle area; CD, Crohn's disease; CDAI, Crohn's Disease Activity Index; IBD, inflammatory bowel disease; TST+SST, triceps plus subscapula skinfold thickness; UC, ulcerative colitis