'Diabulimia' a growing concern with deadly outcomes

A diabetes diagnosis often sparks a newfound resolve to adopt healthier eating and exercise habits.

But for some, it brings with it complications that are now dubbed as a condition called "diabulimia" — where diabetics engage in eating disorder-like behavior in order to lose weight quickly. Some accomplish this by reducing or ceasing their insulin use completely, while others resort to bulimic behaviors of bingeing and purging.

"Eating disorders are twice as common among girls and women with diabetes who use insulin compared with females without diabetes," Beverly Price, Certified Eating Disorder Specialist, said in a press release from the Inner Door Center, an eating disorder treatment clinic in Michigan.

The body image problem

Price says that the practice of withholding insulin is seen in girls as young as 13 or women as old as 60. Overall, diabulimia is estimated to affect about 1.4 million Americans.

Girls with type 1 diabetes may also have a poor self-image, notes Price. And the constant monitoring of blood sugar levels can lead to an almost obsessive relationship with food and eating, which can trigger a condition like anorexia or bulimia. And with the added weight gain that often accompanies insulin use, girls often feel powerless over their bodies and their diseases.

Health risks

Studies have shown that people with diabulimia tend to have poorer diabetes outcomes, being in high-risk territory for things like heart disease, stroke, organ damage or diabetic-related blindness. They also have a mortality rate three times higher than people who don't restrict insulin use, living, on average, 13 fewer years.

"Treating an individual with diabetes and an eating disorder requires a very careful approach in order to achieve a positive outcome," the statement from Inner Door said.

Source: International Business Times

Get a Free Diabetes Meal Plan

Get a free 7-Day Diabetes Meal Plan from Constance Brown-Riggs who is a Registered Dietitian-Certified Diabetes Educator and who is also a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Just enter in your email below to download your free Diabetes Meal Plan.

By clicking Submit, you agree to send your info to BattleDiabetes.com who, in addition to 3rd party partners, may contact you with updates, products and information and we agree to use it according to our privacy policy and terms and conditions.

More Articles

More Articles

Two kinds of edema are associated with diabetes: peripheral edema and diabetic macular edema. Peripheral edema is swelling in your lower legs,...

It is important for people with type 2 diabetes to follow a carefully recommended diet plan. The U.S....

With diabetes, your blood sugar levels...

Diabetes can cause damage to nerves and blood vessels, which can lead to foot sores and infections. Nerve damage can cause a loss of feeling in...

It is common knowledge that people with (or without) diabetes should exercise regularly. But why is exercise so important if diet appears to be...

Many diabetics are told by their doctors to completely eliminate bread from their diet. While store-bought white bread is one of the worst foods a...

So you paid a visit to the doctor’s office, and now the word “diabetes” has joined your regular vocabulary.

You’re bound...

Poor sleep can worsen diabetes symptoms, but burning enough calories may not be the only factor to consider when it comes to how exercise...

Having diabetes can present many different challenges including what to do about drinking...

Potassium is a vital part of our everyday diet. Foods high in potassium include bananas, avocados, yogurt, beans, and fish. Like all nutrients,...

Tinnitus is a common condition affecting around 50 million adults in the U.S. It's defined as a "ringing in the ears" that can lead to difficulty...

The so-called "diabetic diet" is not a diet at all. In fact, there are several methods that can be used to create healthful meals that meet the...

Fainting, also called syncope, results from a temporary insufficiency in the supply of blood to the brain. Syncope can be the result of many...

People who have either type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes can...

Diabetic test strips are one of the biggest expenses in diabetes care. People who are on a fixed income need to watch every penny that they spend...