This year during Eating Disorder Awareness Week, public buildings, bridges and towers will be turning their lights purple. The goal is to emphasize that eating disorders are not a choice, but an illness.
According to Canadian statistics, 1 to 10% of all women will be affected by eating disorders at some point in their lifetime. Girls and women with type 1 diabetes have more than twice the risk. More recent evidence suggests that there is also a higher incidence of eating disorders with male adolescents with type 1 diabetes compared to their peers without diabetes.
The term ‘Eating Disorders’ may include a number of terms:
- anorexia nervosa (AN)
- bulimia (BN),
- binge eating disorder (BEN)
- eating disorder - not otherwise specified (ED-NOS)
In type 1 diabetes there are also several terms:
- eating disorder and Type 1 diabetes (ED-DMT1)
Diabulimia refers to persons skipping or altering their insulin dose in order to control their weight. By not taking insulin, their body is not able to use the calories from their food, so they put themselves in starvation mode. The result of this is high blood sugars, resulting in weight loss. ED-DMT1 is a more inclusive term including diabulimia.
In addition to experiencing weight loss, there are more severe consequences for individuals with type 1 diabetes. Initially high blood sugars can cause fatigue, frequent urination, dehydration, mood changes, and reduced mental and physical capabilities. If insulin is totally omitted, diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) can develop quickly and if left untreated, can result in death. Early onset of microvascular complications can also occur from recurrent DKA.