Eating disorders and unhealthy weight-controlpractices are not uncommon in young women withtype 1 diabetes. The combination can result in seriouscomplications, according to a study reported inDiabetes Care (January 2005). For the study, theresearchers interviewed girls and young women,aged 11 to 25 years, who were patients at a UnitedKingdom diabetes clinic in the late 1980s. The participantswere questioned about their eating habits,attitudes toward food, and eating disorder symptomsat the beginning of the study, then again whenthey were between the ages of 20 and 38.
The researchers found that, among 87 teenagegirls and young women with the disease, 15% had aprobable eating disorder (eg, anorexia or bulimia) atsome point during the study. The data also showedthat more than one third of the participants said theycut back on their insulin in an attempt to keep theirweight in check, while others reported they hadvomited or abused laxatives for weight control.
In the current study, the women with a history ofeating disorders were 5 times more likely to experience2 or more diabetes complications (eg, damageto the eye's blood vessels and kidney dysfunction)over 8 to 12 years of follow-up, compared with theirpeers. The researchers suggested that the fact thatinsulin injections can cause weight gain and thestress of managing a chronic disease may play arole in eating disorders.