Diabetics turning to “Diabulimia” to Lose Weight

A new eating disorder termed “diabulimia” is on the rise in many teenage girls and young women with Type 1 diabetes who are looking to lose weight. “Diabulimia” is a practice in which young women purposely skip their daily insulin injections which can ultimately result in weight loss. It is believed that over 450,000 women across the United States are discovering tricks and tips on “diabulimia” through internet message boards for diabetics as well as those for individuals with eating disorders, such as pro-ana and pro-mia websites.

Even though the American Diabetes Association has known for years about people depriving themselves of their insulin injections in hopes of shedding pounds, “diabulimia” is a term that has just come about in the past few years.

Type 2 diabetes is the more common form of diabetes, accounting for about 95% of all cases. Type 2 is associated with obesity.

Individuals with Type 1 diabetes produce little or no insulin naturally because their immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that usually make insulin. These individuals must inject insulin daily in order to stay healthy. Without insulin, a person’s cells will starve because they do not receive the insulin-delivered glucose they need to survive. The excess glucose instead builds up in the bloodstream, causing blood sugar levels to skyrocket. This results in frequent urination because the kidneys are forced to work harder to rid the bloodstream of the excess glucose. Purging the excess sugar through the kidneys is similar to the purging that a bulimic individual will do in the form of vomitting.

When an individual with Type 1 diabetes skips their insulin injections, some of the health risks can include blindness, amputations, kidney failure, coma, and early death.

Unfortunately, women with Type 1 diabetes are more susceptible to developing an eating disorder due to the strict measures associated with good diabetes management, such as watching what they eat and following a diet.


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2 Responses to “Diabetics turning to “Diabulimia” to Lose Weight”

  1. Theresa

    I’m a diabetic (15 years) and take insulin 3 times a day (or should I say, am supposed to). I was a normal size until I started the insulin regimin. Soon I began to put on weight. Try as I might, I could not lose it. I questioned my doctor EVERY visit and he denied that the insulin injections had anything to do with my weight gain and offered me no alternatives to help me lose the weight. After years of being frustrated, I stopped my insulin injections (I had no idea there was a term for this)soon I began to lose weight. Yes there were the symptoms of high sugar; having to use the bathroom frequently and constant yeast infections were probably the worst, but for me the trade off was worth putting up with these symptoms. I actually lost so much weight that I was the slimmest I had been in my entire life! Then a few years ago I was hospitalized for a blood clot in my leg and was put back on the insulin and I have been a good girl since, however, I have once again put back on the weight (probably more) and am starting to feel frustrated again. I have since changed doctors and now I have one who seems to be a little more understanding – she confessed the insulin injections do play a big role in my weight problems and has even prescribed a few different medications to try and help me – none of them have. So here I am, focusing on my weight and feeling REALLY horrible and my self esteem is very low because of the weight issue and guess what – I am considering stopping the insulin injections again. Even though I have done a lot of research and talked with my doctor about the serious consequences, I just feel this is the only way to go. After all, I have had to give up all the good things because of this disease, I just want to feel good about myself. I have been on both sides, and I can truly say, I feel better about myself when I am not doing the insulin injections. So that is where I am in my thinking……
    I guess my main point is, STOP telling us about all the consequence we are going to deal with – because we already know what they are – give us something that will actually help us to lose or stop gaining the weight!! And for those doctors (like my original doctor) who try and tell their patients that insulin will not affect their weight please…..BE HONEST!

  2. pam

    i completely understand you. I am almost the exact story of your. I started with gestational diabetes, then I had it go away, watched what I did, but still it came back to haunt me. I am at my wits end with this disease. It seems like no one really cares either. I was 112 lbs before this, and now I am 220lbs. It’s devastating. I don’t go out, I can’t even find a good job because I have to tell them I have this diabetes. It is ruining my life, and sometimes I get so down I could just end it all. My sisters and friends are gorgeous people with the bodies I used to have. I hate the way I look, and feel all the time. This is a lifetime sentence, and no matter how much I watch my diet, I am still big. I feel like I’m in someone elses body. I too quit the shots and lost the weight, and developed blood clots, thyroid and high cholestral with it. So I truly wish someone would let me know what there is to live for anymore?!!!!