September 25, 2012
Have you heard the term "diabulimia" yet? Eating disorder articles on the web have been using the term "diabulimia" lately to describe behavior in which individuals with type 1 diabetes cut insulin use to lose weight. Though diabulimia (a term formed out of the words "diabetes" and "bulimia") isn't a formally recognized eating disorder diagnosis, it is certainly a disturbed eating behavior that requires treatment.
When diabetics don't administer their insulin it puts their bodies into a starvation state, making the body unable to process sugars which are secreted in the urine rather than being stored as fat by the body or used as energy. This process often results in significant weight-loss but is extremely life-threatening. Diabetics who practice diabulimia are at risk for a condition called ketoacidosis, in which the body switches to burning fatty acids and burning acidic ketone bodies. This condition carries a 20-50% mortality rate and causes a variety of physical discomforts including excessive urine production and severe abdominal pain.
Certain individuals with type-1 diabetes lose weight prior to insulin treatment and then experience weight-gain following being prescribed with insulin injections. This can cause them to associate insulin with weight gain and omit injections as a form of dieting. It's important for diabetics to realize how dangerous this behavior is.
We have also noticed that it's common that those who omit insulin injections to have been previously diagnosed with anorexia, bulimia or compulsive overeating. In these cases, insulin omission could possibly be a behavior that's symptomatic of another eating disorder disorder.
At Rader Programs we are experienced treating patients who have struggled with eating disorders and type-1 diabetes. If you or someone you love who has been diagnosed with type-1 diabetes is exhibiting noticeable weight loss, seek help immediately.