'Women with diabulimia don't see 30', warns eating disorders expert

'Women with diabulimia don't see 30', warns eating disorders expert

A diabetic insulin pump and blood sugar monitor

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Jacqueline Allan, founder of charity Diabetics With Eating Disorders, has warned that women who suffer from diabulimia are unlikely to reach the age of 30.

Diabulimia is a dual diagnosis disorder, with the individual suffering from an eating disorder on top of diabetes. 

A result of chronic levels of high blood sugar is massive weight loss and because patients have the typical mental symptoms of either anorexia or bulimia, many diabulimia sufferers stop taking their insulin with the aim of losing weight.

Allan explained how dangerous this is because of the impact it has on the body. 

"It is a time bomb," she told Julia Hartley-Brewer. "With chronic high blood sugar, you get very early onset of diabetes-related complications.

"Blindness, stomach problems, infertility - a substantial number of women with this condition don't see 30 because, as soon as you stop taking your insulin, you're on the clock."

Diabulimia is not yet a medically recognised condition, but research undertaken by the charity showed women with type 1 diabetes are twice as likely to develop eating disorders. It found around 40 per cent of diabetic women between the ages of 15 and 30 have restricted insulin injections to control their weight at some point, and there is also a growing number of male diabetics who suffer from the illness.

Allan highlighted the mental aspects of diabulimia are the key roadblock to treating the condition, and any compliments received by the individual can worsen the situation.

"On the one hand, you've got this horrible illness which can kill you," she added, "But people are congratulating you for your body cannibalising itself [when you lose weight]. 

"The only cure for diabetic ketoacidosis is insulin, and of course, it's the one thing you can't give yourself if you're diabulimic."