Diabetics take risks to weight losses. “Diabulimia” … Just the word is scary. This term used by the British is actually a contraction of “diabetes” and “bulimia” which refers to those type 1 diabetics who do not respect their treatment and reduce their insulin dose to lose weight. “I admit that I did not know the expression diaboulimie,” , but we all know this phenomenon. And these are extremely difficult situations to manage. “
According to a British organization, the NHS National Diabetic Information Service, more and more young women between the ages of 15 and 30 would adopt this risky behavior. Between April 1, 2010 and March 31, 2011, 8,472 people were admitted to hospital in Britain for ketoacidosis, which is a serious complication of lack of insulin. Given the scale of the phenomenon, an association of diabetics claims that “diaboulimie” is officially recognized as a mental illness. It is for them the obligatory passage so that these young women are then better taken care of.
Who is concerned with “diaboulimie”?
They are mostly teenagers. At this age, diabetics live particularly poorly the constraints related to their disease and the image of the body is, we know, particularly disturbed. Young women with diabetes are twice as likely to have a eating disorder as their non-diabetic counterparts. According to some studies, 10% of type 1 diabetics suffer from anorexia or bulimia.
What are the risks of reducing your insulin doses?
When these young women moderately reduce insulin doses, the danger is not immediate. But the glycemic imbalance can lead 10 or 20 years later to the development of certain complications of diabetes, such as diabetic retinopathy that can lead to blindness, but also kidney or heart damage. On the other hand, if the patients come to completely deprive themselves of their insulin injection, the consequences can be dramatic.
What advice can we give to these young diabetics who are looking to lose weight?
“First of all, you have to explain to them that insulin does not make you fat. In contrast, lack of insulin causes a glycemic imbalance, and therefore a loss of calories and fat loss, “says Dr. Riveline. However, if a diabetic wants to lose weight, it is quite possible to adjust the dose of insulin to the amount of food consumed. Provided of course to do it under medical supervision.
Then, be aware that a slight imbalance in blood sugar, the famous glycated hemoglobin that monitors all diabetics, is not a disaster.
Finally, if a person continues to play face to face with his insulin injections, a consultation with a psychologist or a psychiatrist specializing in eating disorders can help resolve the situation.
What are the signs to which the entourage must be attentive?
As a bulimic hides to induce vomiting, a “diabulimic” will reduce his insulin doses secretly. Some signs may, however, arouse the suspicions of the parents or spouse. When the disorder is moderate, the only detectable signal is obviously weight loss. On the other hand, when a young woman completely deprives herself of her injections, two signs of seriousness must alert: nausea and vomiting but also a breath with the smell of rotten apple … In this case, to avoid coma, it is necessary to go quickly to the hospital.
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