Diabulimia...A Deadly Form of Diabetes

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Individuals diagnosed with diabetes know how important it is to maintain a healthy weight through diet and lifestyle, along with medication management, to prevent or delay medical complications of diabetes.

However, a growing population of individuals with diabetes choose to restrict or cease to use their insulin in order to lose an unhealthy amount of weight. As insulin encourages fat storage, many people with type 1 diabetes have discovered the relationship between reducing the amount of insulin they take and corresponding weight loss. This practice is referred to as "Diabulimia"- an eating disorder that is linked with type 1 diabetes.

"Eating disorders are twice as common among girls and women with diabetes who use insulin compared with females without diabetes," says Certified Eating Disorder Specialist, Beverly Price . "Withholding insulin has been seen in girls as young as 13 and in women as old as 60. Type 1 diabetes affects nearly 21 million adults and children in the United States. The overall prevalence of diabulimia estimated is up to 1.4 million Americans."

Price, owner and founder of Inner Door Center for Eating Disorder Treatment in Royal Oak, Michigan says females with type 1 diabetes tend to have a poorer self-image because of the disease. To make matters worse, they're encouraged to focus intently on their diet because of their condition. The constant monitoring of blood sugar levels and carbohydrate intake that's required may create a near-obsessive relationship with food and trigger a full-blown eating disorder. Add to this the tendency toward weight gain due to insulin use and the likelihood of an eating disorder increases. Treating an individual with diabetes and an eating disorder requires a very careful approach in order to achieve a positive outcome.

Studies show that individuals with diabulimia have poorly controlled diabetes, with a higher risk of developing complications, such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, along with nerve and kidney damage. They have three times the mortality risk compared with those who don't restrict insulin and are estimated to have a 13-year-shorter life expectancy.

Beverly Price, CEO and Founder of the Inner Door Center, will address professionals and the public on the dangers of diabulimia on May 17 and May 18 at the 6th Annual Diabetes Today and Tomorrow Conference at the Wayne County Community College District, Western Campus.

For more information on treatment for eating disorders and other psychological concerns -  innerdoorcenter.com