Diabetics at risk of eating disorders Print

Diabetes.co.uk have highlighted results from a recent survey they conducted where over 500 people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes took part.  The survey shows over 87% of those surveyed had experienced symptoms of eating disorders related to diabetes.  The survey showed 72%, nearly three quarters, of the respondents are affected by perceptions of their body image but only 12% sought professional advice or help.  97% of the respondents to the survey believe more could be done to raise awareness of diabulimia in particular as many people still do not know what it is or much about it.

So what is diabulimia?

Although not officially recognised as a medical condition yet, diabulimia is a similar type of eating disorder to bulimia that affects people with diabetes, most commonly type 1 diabetes. It has been estimated by experts that as many as third of young female diabetics could be suffering with the condition. Diabetics will deliberately reduce their insulin level in order to lose weight. Although diabulimia is generally associated with the use of insulin, a person with diabetes may also suffer from an eating disorder as well.

The physical and emotional effects of dealing with type 1 diabetes can increase the risk of diabulimia, as well as depression, anxiety and poor self-esteem.

Reducing the amount of insulin needed can be very dangerous and can cause serious health risks, such as:

High glucose levels

Dehydration

Fatigue

Wearing of the muscle tissue

Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Long-term, the effects can be the same as badly managed diabetes, and can lead to retinopathy, neuropathy, kidney failure and even death.

Charlotte Summers, COO of Diabetes.co.uk comments:
“Diabulimia is a serious condition that often gets overlooked. Being diagnosed with diabetes can have a serious impact on self-image. For people with type 1 diabetes, the stress of injecting can have a detrimental effect; whilst in people with type 2 diabetes, the negative portrayal of diabetes in the media causes anxiety and a lack of self-esteem. It is something that affects both men and women and requires more awareness and research in order to determine the best way to address the emotional impact of diabetes.”

If you are concerned about diabetes, blood glucose levels or know someone that may be at risk your local pharmacist is a good and easily accessible place to seek advice.