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Friday, 9 June, 2000, 00:45 GMT 01:45 UK
Diabetic teenagers 'prone to eating disorders'
Insulin injection
Eating disorders worse for type 1 diabetes sufferers
Teenage girls with diabetes are twice as likely to suffer from eating disorders as young women without the condition, claim scientists.

The intensive treatment for diabetes - which can cause sufferers to put on weight - may contribute to the much higher rates of eating disorders among teenage girls with the condition, the experts said.

Eating disorders are almost twice as common in adolescent females with type 1 diabetes as in their non-diabetic peers

Jennifer Jones, University Health Network, Toronto
And they warned that diabetic girls with eating disorders are at increased risk of the early onset of diabetes-related complications such as heart disease and eyesight damage.

The research, published in the British Medical Journal, studied 1,454 Canadian girls between the ages of 12 and 19, and their attitudes to eating.

They found that girls with type 1 diabetes - insulin-dependent diabetes - were 2.4 times more likely to have an eating disorder than non-diabetic women.

One in 10 of the diabetic girls met the medical criteria for eating disorders, compared to 4% of young women without the condition.

Even more worrying, a third of diabetic girls admitted to binge eating and 11% said they had either stopped taking or had "under-dosed" on the life-saving insulin used to treat their condition.

Diabetic girls with eating disorders have a threefold risk of permanent damage to their eyesight, research has shown.

People with diabetes need to strictly control their diets to prevent the early onset of complications such as heart problems, kidney disease and blindness.


Girls with diabetes may lose weight when they first develop the condition and then put on weight after diagnosis and the beginnings of insulin treatment.

Not taking insulin may lead to the earlier onset of health complications, the researchers said.

They called for more studies to determine whether the treatment for diabetes is causing girls to develop eating disorders.

Jennifer Jones, lead researcher at the University Health Network in Toronto, Canada, said: "Eating disorders are almost twice as common in adolescent females with type 1 diabetes as in their non-diabetic peers."

The British Medical Association last week published a report into eating disorders, blaming the media's portrayal of "abnormally thin" women for the extent of the problem.

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30 May 00 | Health
Models link to teenage anorexia
10 Apr 00 | UK Politics
Government 'summit' over thin models
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