"Diabulimia" … A Dangerous Trend
For many people with type 1 diabetes, particularly teenage girls, skipping insulin doses to lose weight seems like an easy way to drop a few pounds, yet it puts an individual at risk for a variety of health problems.
Continuous high blood sugar levels can cause short-term effects such as dehydration, fatigue, and breakdown of muscle tissue. Over longer periods of time, individuals are at risk for developing many serious diabetic complications — including blindness, kidney disease, and heart disease — at a much earlier age.
Although the risks associated with restricting or omitting insulin are severe, the most alarming aspect of this behavior is how widespread it seems to be among type 1 individuals. One study found that as many as 30 percent of adolescent type 1 females have skipped or restricted insulin doses in order to lose weight.*
Recognizing the symptoms:
While skipping or restricting insulin doses to lose weight is a practice well-known among many within the diabetes community, few outside it are familiar with it, making it difficult for both parents and doctors to recognize the symptoms of this risky behavior.
Warning signs can include:
•changes in eating habits (eating more but still losing weight)
•unexplained weight loss
•unexplained hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)
•low energy levels
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