Cross sectional study of prevalence of eating disorders in adolescent females with and without type 1 diabetes
Eating disorders are almost twice as common in girls with type 1 diabetes as in non-diabetic girls of the same age, putting them at increased risk of complications, according to a study in this week's BMJ.
Canadian researchers surveyed over 1,400 young women aged between 12 and 19 years about their attitudes towards eating. Those with diabetes were 2.4 times more likely to have an eating disorder. In total, 10 per cent of girls with diabetes met the medical criteria for eating disorders compared with 4 per cent of non-diabetic girls. Furthermore, 30 per cent of girls with diabetes reported binge eating and 11 per cent reported taking less than their prescribed dose of insulin in order to lose weight.
Underdosing of insulin is a particular concern, say the authors, as it may lead to an earlier than expected onset of diabetes-related complications. Indeed, they suggest that eating disorders in girls with type 1 diabetes are associated with about a threefold increase in the risk of permanent eyesight damage. The authors conclude that further study is needed to determine whether intensive diabetes treatment itself could be a risk factor for the development of eating disorders in this group.
Gary Rodin, Chief Psychiatrist, Department of Psychiatry, University Health Network, Ontario, Canada Email: Gary.Rodin@uhn.on.ca