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Eating Disorders & Diabetes

While an Eating Disorder alone can be extremely dangerous, when combined with Diabetes that danger can become a reality much more quickly.

For some, there seems to be a common thread between Diabetes and Eating Disorders, increasing their risks for serious adverse and long term effects. The strict focus on nutritional intake and diet with Diabetics, the need for parental control over the young Diabetic's life, and the increased weight gain that insulin treatment can cause, may all play roles in the increased risk for onset of Anorexia and/or Bulimia.

A hard to control blood sugar level in a patient with Diabetes may be an indication to doctors that the person also suffers an Eating Disorder. It was recently reported that Diabetics with Eating Disorders are at an increased risk for developing Diabetic Retinopathy (an eye disorder that causes broken blood vessels in the back of the eye) that can lead to blindness.

Susan M. Julien, (Newsletter Editor, The Turning Point, West Michigan Chapter of Juvenile Diabetes Foundation) submitting the following warning signs for Eating Disorder in Diabetics: (© 1997 WordWise)

Anorexia: Refusal to maintain weight at or above the minimal normal weight for height, body frame and age; Lowering or skipping Insulin doses in order to lose weight or maintain weight; Overwhelming fear of becoming fat; Distorted body image; Unusual eating patterns such as fasting, new diet or refusing to eat with others; Amenorrhea (loss of menstrual cycle); preoccupation with food, weight and body image; feelings of isolation, irritability and depression.

Bulimia: Repeated episodes of binging and purging (vomiting, laxative or diuretic abuse, excessive exercise); the appearance of being a "normal" eater around others; extreme concerns over body weight and shape; denial of high blood glucose due to binging; feelings of isolation, irritability and depression.

Though men make up the smaller percentage of those with Eating Disorders, in should be important to note that a recent study suggested that men with diabetes are at an increased risk for Osteoporosis (the loss of bone mass). The combination of an Eating Disorder and Diabetes would suggest that the risk of boss loss is significantly increased.

In addition to Diabetes playing a role in the onset of an Eating Disorder, the reverse can be true as well. "Up to eighty percent of diabetics are considered medically obese when they are diagnosed, making obesity one of the most preventable underlying risk factors for Diabetes." (Medical Tribune News Service, 1997) Being significantly overweight can increase the risk of heart disease and Diabetes, so Compulsive Overeaters would potentially fall into this category and be in elevated danger of both. The two most common risk factors for adult-onset Diabetes, Type II, are obesity and family history.

In conclusion, both having Diabetes or an Eating Disorder can potentially be life threatening and cause life-long complications and ailments. If left untreated, Diabetes can lead to heart failure, kidney failure, blindness or death, while having an Eating Disorder increases the risks for heart attack, stroke, kidney failure (and many other things), including death. The obvious assumption can be drawn that the combination of both and Eating Disorder and Diabetes is particularly dangerous and life-threatening.


:: Mental Health :: Voices :: Perception ::
Mind & Body :: Symptoms :: Questionnaire ::
Misconceptions :: Diabetes :: Phobias ::
Genetics and Biology :: WWW.Warning ::

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