Diabulimia: the little-known eating disorder that's killing women with type 1 diabetes
Lisa Day, a 27-year old student nurse from North London, died after waiting nearly five hours for an ambulance in September 2015. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a teenager, she had purposely missed vital insulin jabs in order to lose weight on multiple occasions. But this time, without the crucial hormone to mop up excess sugar in her blood, she had developed life-threatening diabetic ketoacidosis, whereby toxic chemicals build up in the body.
Lisa's story is devastating, but sadly it is far from unique. It's estimated that in the UK, a third of diabetic women between the ages of 15 and 30 are regularly skipping their insulin injections in order to lose weight. Campaigners and doctors in the know call this eating disorder diabulimia, but it is, as yet, an unrecognised disease.
Unlike type 2 diabetes, often caused by lifestyle factors, where the body becomes less responsive to insulin, type 1 happens when the immune system accidentally destroys the cells in the pancreas which produce the hormone. This essential chemical ferries the energy from food around the body. But without it, the symptoms of diabetes appear: frequent urination, dehydration and utter exhaustion. The condition also often results in rapid weight loss.
"Ironically though, particularly if you are female, people start telling you how good you look, they ask you what your secret is and despite feeling half dead you start thinking 'Hey this is great! I'm losing weight!'. Then you find out that actually you aren't the luckiest girl in the world. You have a life threatening chronic illness and treating it invo Continue reading