Skip to Content

Eating Disorders Common in People With Type 1 Diabetes


Young women with type 1 diabetes may have a significant risk for developing eating disorders, according to researchers at Joslin Diabetes Center and Harvard Medical School.

In a recent study on girls with type 1 diabetes, results showed that 30 to 40 percent of the young women participants were struggling with some type of serious disordered eating behavior.

The study also found that eating disorders are more common in girls with type 1 diabetes than in individuals with type 2 diabetes. This is likely due to the fact that type 1 diabetes typically manifests before the age eating disorders do, said study author Dr. Patricia Colton, deputy medical director of the eating disorders program at Toronto General Hospital.

Insulin and weight control

Insulin is often linked to weight gain, which may lead patients to skip insulin doses or restrict their diets, Colton said.

Eating disorders are also associated with greater risks for health complications like osteoporosis, gastrointestinal damage, and infertility. And for diabetics, even "mild" disordered eating habits can lead to more serious complications like severe hypoglycemia, kidney damage or diabetic ketoacidosis.

“These are likely related to chronically high blood sugar levels caused by insulin misuse and omission as well as difficulty regulating blood sugar levels when food intake is chaotic," Colton said. "Unfortunately, risk of death also appears to be elevated in those with type 1 diabetes who are also struggling with an eating disorder."

Source: Endocrinology Advisor
Image courtesy of marin/