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Diabetes Educ. 2005 Jul-Aug;31(4):572-83.

Disordered eating behaviors in youth with type 1 diabetes.

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  • 1Diabetes Center for Children, Division of Endocrinology, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Eating disorders are a significant health problem for many adolescents and are described as occurring along a spectrum of symptoms including disordered eating behaviors and clinical eating disorders. Poor self-esteem and body image, intense fear of gaining weight or refusal to maintain weight, and purging unwanted calories are clinical features of some eating disorders. Type 1 diabetes is a chronic illness with marked insulin deficiency. Chronic hyperglycemia creates a state of glucosuria with subsequent weight loss. Diabetes treatment focuses on intensive daily management of blood glucose by balancing insulin, food intake, and physical activity. Insulin omission offers an easy method for the purging of unwanted calories. The combination of these 2 illnesses is potentially deadly and also leads to an increased risk of poor diabetes outcomes. This includes poor metabolic control (measured by elevated hemoglobin A1C), increased risk of diabetic ketoacidosis, and microvascular complications such as retinopathy and nephropathy. Diabetes clinicians should be aware of the potential warning signs in an adolescent with diabetes as well as assessment and treatment options for eating disorders with concomitant type 1 diabetes. This article reviews the available data on the prevalence, screening tools, assessment guidelines, and treatment options for eating disorders in youth with type 1 diabetes.

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