The Uniquely Dangerous Eating Disorder Symptom in Type 1 Diabetes
Eating disorders in type 1 diabetes (T1DM) are rarely understood or recognized outside the T1DM patient and medical community. In fact, there is still a lack of awareness even inside of the world of T1DM. Despite this reality, girls and women with T1DM are close to 2.5 times more likely to develop eating disorders than those who do not have diabetes. This is a serious women’s health problem in diabetes, and it is associated with severe medical consequences.
Eating disorders in T1DM often involve a uniquely dangerous symptom – namely insulin restriction as a means of calorie purging. It is important to note that not all people with T1DM and eating disorders restrict insulin; however, the large majority of research in this area has focused on this particular eating disorder symptom. The media and lay public use the term “Diabulimia,” when referring to an eating disorder involving insulin restriction. When insulin doses are skipped or under-dosed, blood glucose levels rise, and the body attempts to excrete that glucose in the urine and thereby loses or purges calories.
Insulin restriction can lead to rapid and dramatic weight loss but also increases the risk of both acute and long-term T1DM complications and even an increased risk of death. We do not yet definitively know if there are identifiable factors that increase eating disorder risk at diabetes diagnosis or throughout the duration of T1DM. Most importantly, even less is understood about effective treatments for eating disorders in the context of T1DM.
Treatment guidelines have been created based on expert clinic Continue reading