As many as one-third of young women with diabetes could be suffering with a type of eating disorder that prompts them to manipulate or omit insulin intake leading to severe complications such as heart disease, nerve damage and amputation as well as vision problems, researchers say.
Diabulimia is an eating disorder in which people with Type 1 diabetes deliberately give themselves less insulin than they need, for the purpose of weight loss.
"People with diabetes are more at risk of developing an eating disorder. As 15 to 20 per cent of all young women have an eating disorder and the risk is twice as high in people with Type 1 diabetes... this means that up to a third of young women with diabetes develop eating disorder," Janet Treasure, Professor at Kings College London, was quoted as saying to express.co.uk.
"Diabulimia is a serious condition that often gets overlooked...for people with Type 1 diabetes, the stress of injecting (insulin) can have a detrimental effect," said Charlotte Summers from Diabetes.co.uk -- a British-based support community for people with diabetes.
The signs of diabulimia may include regular changes in weight, awkwardness over questions about diabetes control, avoiding clinic appointments, having a high haemoglobin A1c(HbA1c) compared with results entered in a blood glucose diary, being very thirsty, needing to urinate frequently and having blurred vision.
In addition, manipulating or omitting insulin can also cause blood sugar levels to surge and reach an unhealthy level. This may lead to simple fatigue to wearing of the muscle tissue and can cause complications, such as retinopathy, neuropathy and kidney disease, the researchers said.
"It is something that affects both men and women and requires more awareness and research in order to determine the best way to address the emotional impact of diabetes," Summers noted.