Diabulimia cases rising

18th June 2007

Diabulimia cases rising

The Associated Press reported on the latest trend amongst the eating disordered: diabulimia.

Diabulimia is characterized by the restriction of insulin among those who have Type 1 diabetes. Insulin is vital for delivering glucose from the bloodstream to the body’s cells. Without insulin, cells starve even while the bloodstream becomes burdened with too much glucose.

And skipping insulin equals weight loss, one of the consequences of uncontrolled diabetes. So too is the risk of falling into a coma or even dying. Blindness, amputations and kidney failure are some of the long-term complications that can develop.

“Diabulimia” is a term that has only cropped up in recent years and is not a recognized medical condition, said Barbara Anderson, a pediatrics professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

But it’s one that’s catching on quickly. One expert who has studied the phenomenon estimates that 450,000 Type 1 diabetic women in the United States — one-third of the total — have skipped or shortchanged their insulin to lose weight and are risking a coma and an early death.

Maybe instead of “diabulimia,” it ought to be called “diebulimia.”

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This entry was posted on Monday, June 18th, 2007 at 1:57 pm and is filed under Eating Disorders, Health, Nutrition & Fitness. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

There are currently 14 responses to “Diabulimia cases rising”

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  1. 1 On June 18th, 2007, DivaJeab said:

    This one has been around a long time. My ex-girlfriend did this back in the day (mid 1980′s) and has truly suffered the effects. She has terrible peripheral neuropathy, bad vascular changes in the eye and who knows what else.

    By the time she was old enough to know what she was doing was wrong, it was too late and the main damage had been done.

    I think that diabulemia is something that should really be talked about more when kids- especially girls- are diagnosed with diabetes to stress the dangers of playing this Russian roulette game- that no one wins.

  2. 2 On June 18th, 2007, Meowser said:

    Holy manna of muffintops. I mean, damn. I thought I’d heard it all in terms of EDs, but that’s a jawdropper. If you’re type 1, you can’t blow off your insulin. You just can’t. (I’ve heard of type 2′s who aren’t end-stage and critically insulin-dependent being able to get away with this, but that’s different.) I would absolutely freak if I had a kid who was doing this.

  3. 3 On June 20th, 2007, Eric Link said:

    Here are some more thoughts from our CMO, Dr. Steve Ponder

  4. 4 On June 20th, 2007, Nicole said:

    As a type I diabetic, this is the most ridiculous trend I have ever heard of. Not only is this life threatening but it also causes horrible vaginal yeast infections (which can be transferred to sexual partners), makes you feel tired, hungry, incredibly thirsty, and gives you bad breath. I think some chub is way sexier. If a diabetic girl who does this gets pregnant her child will have some absolutely devastating birth defects. And oh yeah, if you’re a guy it will give you erectile dysfunction as your circulatory system deteriorates from the uncontrollably high blood sugars.

  5. 5 On July 5th, 2007, MEP said:

    A friend of mine who is Type I due to a physical injury in her teens lamented getting an insulin pump, saying “Now I’m going to get fat!” I don’t believe she ever consciously withheld insulin to lose weight, but she definitely rode that line closely.

    But that’s nothing compared to a Type I guy I knew who would load up syringes of insulin and then bong a bunch of beers, injecting as needed.

  6. 6 On July 20th, 2007, KCT said:

    Help! This is real and something I find myself doing. For someone who doesn’t have diabetes it may be hard to understand why we do this, especially knowing the seriousness of the disease alone! However, before I was diagnosed I experieced a significant weight loss and got so many compliments on how great I was looking! I was looking better and feeling better, or should I say feeling better abt the way I looked. I hated having to go to the bathroom every ten minutes and staying so thirsty all the time. I had lost abt 25 lbs. in six weeks and just three days after starting insulin therapy, I gained 11 lbs! That’s 11 lbs in three days! None of my clothes fit, my face was solen, I couldn’t wear my dimond or wedding band b/c my fingers were so solen! The good news is I delt with the weight gain and got my numbers under control and just four months into the disease, my husband and I found out we were expecting our second child. I knew how great the risk were for our unborn child and even surprised my doctors with such tight control! Just abt two moths after our perfectly heathly baby boy was born, I stopped using my insulin pump to lose weight and found myself in the CCU for three days with DKA and came very close to dying! That of course was a wake up call for me, thinking “What kind of mother would knowingly do this to her children? How could I be so selfish as to leave them just b/c I wanted to lose the diabetic-baby weight?” When our baby was abt six months old I decided to join Weight Watchers AGAIN and lose the old fashioned way; and this has worked great for the last four months, however I’ve, in the last few weeks found myself slipping into the habit of getting by on my basal rates to shed the weight fatser! This combined with excessive exercise in order to train for a 5K to benefit none other than juvenile diabetes research, has helped me lose faster than my fellow weight watchers! I know that I have an appointment w/my dr. coming up in a few weeks, so I’ll just tighten back up two weeks prior as to show her some well controlled numbers! It’s a vicious cycle and one that’s hard to explain. There is so much at risk, but its so easy to do without anyone knowing! I find it hard to talk to anyone abt it for fear of being fussed at! I’m 28 yrs old and was diagnosed two years ago. I feel like after I get to my “goal weight” I will gradually get my doses back to where they need to be. Until then, its depervation as usual :(

  7. 7 On July 26th, 2007, fuzzykitten said:

    KCT – Please please please PLEASE go to a doctor now. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, go see someone who can help you! My father was a type I diabetic. I say was, because he died at age 54. He was possibly the fittest, healthiest person I have ever met, aside from the diabetes. Yet by the time he was 35, both of his kidneys failed, he lost sight in both of his eyes, he had a stroke, he was suffering terribly from vascular disease, and things only got worse from there. At age 52 he needed both of his legs removed from the calf down.

    Being fat (or above your ideal weight of what you think you should be) isn’t scary. Being blind in a wheelchair is scary. Not being able to see your child graduate high school or get married is scary. Being strapped to a dialysis machine for the rest of your life is scary. Watching a parent waste away at a far too young age is scary, especially when it doesn’t have to happen.

    Please seek help. Talk to your doctor, your family, anyone. What you’re doing is severely detrimental to your health in a way that is irreparable, and as a diabetic, you do not get many chances – if any – to make mistakes when it comes to the health of your body.

  8. 8 On August 12th, 2007, Lauren said:

    Wow… So I am 23, and have been a diabetic for 21 years and since I was 16 this is something I have struggled with…. Not until I began talking to a diabetic friend about why I dont take care of myself like I should did he tell me to search about this…. I have a little girl that amazes me everyday… and I would love to be here to watch her grow up, but if I do not get some control quick it may be too late…. I say that as I sit here with an extremely high blood sugar… I refuse to go to bed until I know it is coming down safely!

  9. 9 On August 13th, 2007, Nicole said:

    When i was 12 years old i was diagnosed with type one diabetes. Now being 17 i have struggled with diabulimia for many years. I am still in the process of trying to get myself to take all of my insulin everyday and to test my blood sugar. I am ashamed of both my diabetes and my eating disorder but have learned to hide it very well. To tell you the truth, not taking my insulin was like a drug to me. Its an addiction, an addiction to wanting to be skinny and to be perfect or atleast seem that way. When i was 14 i went into ketoasidosis and felt all the horrible side affects which come with it. I couldnt breathe, i always had to pee and drank more than anyone should ever in a day. I could barely move and i was not my normal self but i loved it because i weighed 80 lbs. It might seem very disgusting to people who dont have diabetes or who do not have diabulimia to just say dont do it or stop, your killing yourself but what those people dont relize is that this disease, (diabulimia) is just like and eating disorder or like any addictive habbit, you must do it, you have to. I have been in therapy since i was 14 i have talked to every doctor possible but the truth is that no therapists or clinic or anything will make you stop, you must want it bad enough to work for it because you cant be a recovering addict until you relize its for you and no one else. Diabetes made me more self consious and made me feel like i was never going to be pretty or perfect ever again. Diabulimia took that feeling away. i lied to everyone that i cared about including my parents just to feed my disorder. Diabulimia is not a joke and although it is not classified as an eating disorder yet, i for one have felt the pain that it has caused me physically and mentally.

  10. 10 On September 14th, 2007, Justine said:

    My name is Justine Blanchard. I am the editor-in-chief of Drake Magazine, an award-winning, student-run publication at Drake University in Des Moines, IA. I am writing a feature article on Diabulimia, and I was hoping to speak to someone who is or has suffered from this disorder. I want to make sure that every aspect is covered, so don’t worry about this article attacking you if you are suffering. Please let me know if anyone is interested–if you are concerned with privacy, we could only use your first name. Thanks!

    Justine Blanchard
    Drake Magazine

  11. 11 On September 29th, 2007, D@t Crazy Benton Chick said:

    I have struggled with this for way too long…. now i have an amazing lil girl that is healthy as could be! Due to my lack of control there was a lot of talk about what could and probably would be wrong with her, but she came out perfect! Now she is two years old and I find myself falling deeper in to this trend…. I am insecure about my body tremendously…all my friends tell me how beautiful I am but I just do not see it! I honestly couldnt tell ya the last time I checked my blood sugar… I have skipped my last 2 endocrine appointments cuz I dont want to be griped at….. ya know I have an amazing doctor! But he fought hard to get me on the pump and now this is how I am repaying him…. My mom told me when I got on the pump I was gonna gain weight, and I was like no I wont… well now I am slowly losing weight cuz I am in a mode of self destruction! I dont know where to go from here… your right no therapist or doctor can help ya out with this disorder… you have to truely want it within…. sadly even thinking about my daughter growing up without her mom doesnt put a halt on it, and i know it is just me being selfish……..

  12. 12 On December 16th, 2007, meetoe said:

    i don’t know if i am diabulimic, but last year when i went overseas, i lost alot of weight. i know i skipped maybe one or two shots a day, and at times i did get sick. but since then i’ve been relatively good with my shots, but having gone on the pill, i seemed to have gained more weight again.
    i’m now thinking of skipping shots to lose around 10kgs. i have read many articles about it, and i am completely aware of the long and short term effects. however, i’m wondering, if i only go through with this for maybe a month, will this put my kidneys and my eyes, and every other body part that could be affected at a high risk?
    or is it that all of the articles i’ve read, those people have been completely missing shots for years that they have had extreme complications?

    i know this is terrible wrong, but even so, i guess some people don’t understand how it’s like.

  13. 13 On January 17th, 2008, Cindy said:

    I am a producer on an award-winning documentary series that airs on WEtv. We are doing an episode on eating disorders and want to profile a female who is currently struggling with Diabulimia. Anyone interested in possibly participating should email:


  14. 14 On July 19th, 2008, Jacq said:

    I have set up this website to provide NON JUDGEMENTAL help and support for sufferers of this illness please feel free to come and join me

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