Diabetes and Eating Disorders

In the current issue of Diabetes Care, Dr. Patricia A. Colton, of University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, and colleagues report the findings of a 5-year study of eating disturbances in girls with type 1 diabetes.

The study found that (1) young women with type 1 diabetes are more likely to struggle with eating disorders than their peers without diabetes, (2) disordered eating needs to be addressed in the pre-teen years and (3) many young women with type 1 diabetes continue to struggle with disordered eating over time.

“Eating disturbances early in the study, in the pre-teen years, were very likely to persist over time; 92 percent of girls with eating disturbances detected early in the study continued to report eating disturbances later in their teen years,” Colton said in an interview with Reuters Health.

“This study contributes to the growing understanding of the close relationship between physical health and mental health in individuals with diabetes,” Colton continued. “In particular, eating disturbances are very common and persistent in girls and women with type 1 diabetes, and can arise in even pre-teen girls,” she noted.

The study concludes with the idea of working with young women during their doctor visits making them aware of these risks and to educate and empower them to make better choices.

It’s so important to draw attention to this topic and so I’m always glad to read about new research that will help young women with diabetes avoid this horrible disorder. Or not even just help them avoid it, but help empower them so they can knock disordered eating on it’s feet. I regret the time in my life that I wasted on an eating disorder, I regret sticking a toothbrush down my throat to make myself throw up everything I had eaten. I regret the damage I did to my body when I was a teenager struggling with my body as a young woman with diabetes.

I still struggle, because I am a woman with diabetes, I think about everything I put in my mouth. I measure my cereal in the morning, I avoid processed foods and anything with sugar. If I’m low, I eat when I’m not hungry, if I’m high, I ignore my hunger pains. Eating disorders and diabetes go hand in hand. Let’s draw attention to this topic and maybe young women with diabetes can live without my regrets.

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