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Diabetes and Eating Disorders

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a disease of the endocrine system. In short, a person’s pancreas is incapable of producing enough insulin to offset sugar in the system; in order to remain alive; a diabetic must regularly acquire insulin from an external source. Diabetes takes a toll on a person’s body, especially the eyes, nerves, and kidneys. However, with medical care, healthy diet and exercise, diabetics can expect to live long lives. Unfortunately, these days many diabetic girls are playing a dangerous game with their health all in the name of being thin.

What is Diabulimia?

Adolescents tend to desire certain things. Most want to be attractive and popular. They look to magazines, television shows, and the internet to glean what is the latest in terms of hair, makeup and clothes. Although these areas will shift according to fashion, one issue that seemingly never changes is the necessity to be rail-thin. Because diabetics are no different from other teenagers, they too want to achieve the “look.” And they have found a way to make it happen. By under dosing insulin, a diabetic will force sugar to leave his or her body through urine. The result: easy weight loss. In fact, this practice has become so widespread, that it is now being referred to as diabulimia.

Consequences of Diabulimia

As mentioned, diabetes is already hard on the body. Add anorexia to the mix and it goes from merely hard to horrific. Manipulating insulin as a form of weight control places their health, and lives, in extreme jeopardy. The mortality rate for these young women escalates to 35%. What’s more, the medical complications of diabetes such as vision loss and kidney failure escalate dramatically. This means if a diabetic begins insulin manipulation at the age of 17, she could be totally blind, suffering terrible nerve pain, or anticipating a kidney transplant by her mid 20s.

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  • Remember…Both anorexia and diabetes are extremely taxing to a body. You can’t recover from diabetes currently, but you can absolutely recover from an eating disorder by admitting to a leading eating disorder treatment facility. Please don’t take chances with your vision or your life.

    Diabetes and Eating Disorder Articles

    • Why do eating disorders affect female children with diabetes twice as much as it does in normal female adolescents? It could be due to the weight gain that occurs after the child begins diabetes treatment. This is because the young person stops losing glucose in the urine when the diabetes is uncontrolled. This article discusses the correlation between Type 1 diabetes and children developing eating disorders. Read more about diabetes and eating disorders in this article.
    • If you or your loved one is suffering with diabetes in addition to an eating disorder, you may find that the combination of these illnesses is overwhelming. Perhaps you have intentionally skipped your insulin dosage in an effort to stay thin? These behaviors are associated with severe risks that could be life threatening.  Fortunately, there are institutes who have joined efforts to treat men or women who might be struggling with both diabetes and an eating disorder.  Read this article to learn more about the risks and complications of diabetes and an eating disorder.
    • Being diagnosed with Diabetes can be devastating.  If you or your loved one has been suffering with Diabetes, you may understand the difficulty of making behavioral and lifestyle changes to improve your well-being.  Managing this disease can be truly overwhelming.  Thankfully, with continued support and effort, you can improve your life and health dramatically by making necessary changes in your life.  Read more about managing diabetes and nutrition.

    Last Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on May 7, 2013

    Page last updated: May 7, 2013
    Published on, Eating Disorder Resources

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    { 1 comment… read it below or add one }

    Grace Mik December 12, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    My diabetic friends hasn’t been eating lunch lately. He gets very depressed/frustrated when we try to get him to eat food, and I was getting worried that he was contracting Anorexia. I’ll talk to him next time I see him and try to make sure he knows he has someone to talk to, and I wanted to thank you for posting this so I can know more about the disease and how it’s affecting him.

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