Diabetes and Eating Disorders

Updated at: May 29, 2012
Diabetes and Eating Disorders

Diabetes and eating disorders are interlinked, especially when one is referring to type 1 diabetes, specifically. Learn more, here.

Bhadra Kamalasanan
DiabetesWritten by: Bhadra KamalasananPublished at: May 17, 2012

Diabetes and Eating Disorders

Efforts to maintain normal blood sugar levels and prevent weight gain may as well link to an eating disorder. Type 1 diabetes is a medical condition in which the immune system of the body attacks the insulin-producing cells that exist in the pancreas. People with type 1 diabetes produce either very little insulin or no insulin at all. To ensure that there is enough insulin in the body, a type 1 diabetes patient takes insulin shots.  Type 1 diabetes manifests at a developmental stage i.e. during adolescence or young adults. Many younger patients of type 1 diabetes build up other issues along with diabetes such as that of reduced body image.

While some may only be offended and frustrated with the bruises at the injection sites, other would move a step further. As the younger diabetic patients grow up, they realise that insulin is a storage hormone that keep the muscle mass from breaking down and stores fat. To ensure that they do not end up gaining unwanted weight, they end up skipping a few doses of insulin shots. These patients with time master the art of taking just enough insulin to avoid the probability of diabetic ketoacidosis and hospitalisation. The term used for this medical condition to save oneself from weight gain by skipping insulin shots is called diabulimia. While diabulimia as a term m evolved only recently, several medical organisations have long known its existence.

The consequences of skipping insulin shots can be numerous. Patients who practice this technique tend to have high blood sugar levels and thereby, become fatigued, dehydrated and end up experiencing a muscle tissue breakdown. In the long-term, this practice may be linked to the development of complications relating to diabetes such as kidney disease, limb amputations due to vascular disease and eye disease.

Although, these disorders may be known well by endocrinologists who treat patients with type 1 diabetes, the disorder is not easily recognised by family members or health care providers.

If you notice that someone in your family or social circle has type 1 diabetes and is showing signs that may be concerning, report to a doctor or bring his/her behaviour to someone’s attention.  Although, the short-term effects of manipulating insulin can be treated, its long-term effects can yield dire consequences that may be irreversible in nature. Therefore, early intervention of a primary health provider is of utmost importance.


Read more articles on Understand Diabetes.


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