Strict diets required for chronic disease management may increase risk of unhealthy eating behaviors

April 11, 2000

Young women with diseases that require them to adhere to a strict diet may be more vulnerable to a range of eating disturbances that varies depending on the disease, according to the results of a small study.

Eating disturbances are unhealthy eating attitudes and behaviors that are not severe enough to qualify as full-blown eating disorders.

Previous studies noted that eating disorders occur more frequently in women with diabetes, but this study, which focused on women with phenylketonuria (PKU) as well as on women with Type 1 diabetes, attempts to take a broader look at the association between eating-disordered behavior and chronic diseases.

Individuals with both Type 1 diabetes and PKU, a hereditary condition in which an amino acid found in protein-containing foods can't be properly metabolized, must adhere to strict diet regimens. Since diabetics don't produce enough insulin, a hormone that helps the body regulate carbohydrate metabolism, they must carefully monitor food intake. Individuals with PKU have to restrict severely their consumption of protein-rich foods like meat, eggs, and milk, and also certain fruits, vegetables, and grains.

Deviation from diet regimens carries serious health risks for both groups. Diabetics who deviate are at increased risk for vascular complications like heart disease, and individuals with PKU who don't adhere to their diets can develop brain damage.

A statistically comparable number of the 54 study participants with diabetes and the 30 study participants with PKU demonstrated symptoms of eating-disordered behavior, according to authors Joan C. Chrisler, PhD, and Jeanne E. Antisdel, MA, of Connecticut College, in New London, CT. Specifically, 33 percent of those with diabetes and 23 percent of those with PKU exhibited such symptoms.

Certain types of eating problems were more common within each group. Preoccupation with avoiding fattening foods and with weight loss was more common among study participants with diabetes, whereas PKU sufferers were more likely to be preoccupied with self-control around food. They were also more likely to perceive that others were pressuring them to gain weight.

Diabetics with eating problems had lower self-esteem and a more negative body image compared to those without such problems. They were also less vigilant about monitoring blood sugar levels, following a meal plan, and properly treating hypoglycemia. PKU study participants with eating problems demonstrated poorer psychological judgement as well as lower self-esteem, the researchers found. Their study findings appear in the April issue of the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

"Although the symptoms of disordered eating among our participants were not as severe as those of patients with eating disorders, they were more intense than those reported by nonclinical samples," said Chrisler.

"Clinicians who work with adolescents and young women with diabetes or PKU should be alert for signs of disordered eating that might interfere with their patients' health status," she added.

This research was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health through a National Research Service Award Institutional Training Grant.
The Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics is published bimonthly by the Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. For information about the journal, contact Mary Sharkey at (212) 595-7717.

Posted by the Center for the Advancement of Health < >. For information about the Center, call Petrina Chong, < > (202) 387-2829.

Center for Advancing Health

Related Diabetes Articles from Brightsurf:

New diabetes medication reduced heart event risk in those with diabetes and kidney disease
Sotagliflozin - a type of medication known as an SGLT2 inhibitor primarily prescribed for Type 2 diabetes - reduces the risk of adverse cardiovascular events for patients with diabetes and kidney disease.

Diabetes drug boosts survival in patients with type 2 diabetes and COVID-19 pneumonia
Sitagliptin, a drug to lower blood sugar in type 2 diabetes, also improves survival in diabetic patients hospitalized with COVID-19, suggests a multicenter observational study in Italy.

Making sense of diabetes
Throughout her 38-year nursing career, Laurel Despins has progressed from a bedside nurse to a clinical nurse specialist and has worked in medical, surgical and cardiac intensive care units.

Helping teens with type 1 diabetes improve diabetes control with MyDiaText
Adolescence is a difficult period of development, made more complex for those with Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM).

Diabetes-in-a-dish model uncovers new insights into the cause of type 2 diabetes
Researchers have developed a novel 'disease-in-a-dish' model to study the basic molecular factors that lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, uncovering the potential existence of major signaling defects both inside and outside of the classical insulin signaling cascade, and providing new perspectives on the mechanisms behind insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes and possibly opportunities for the development of novel therapeutics for the disease.

Tele-diabetes to manage new-onset diabetes during COVID-19 pandemic
Two new case studies highlight the use of tele-diabetes to manage new-onset type 1 diabetes in an adult and an infant during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Genetic profile may predict type 2 diabetes risk among women with gestational diabetes
Women who go on to develop type 2 diabetes after having gestational, or pregnancy-related, diabetes are more likely to have particular genetic profiles, suggests an analysis by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions.

Maternal gestational diabetes linked to diabetes in children
Children and youth of mothers who had gestational diabetes during pregnancy are at increased risk of diabetes themselves, according to new research published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Two diabetes medications don't slow progression of type 2 diabetes in youth
In youth with impaired glucose tolerance or recent-onset type 2 diabetes, neither initial treatment with long-acting insulin followed by the drug metformin, nor metformin alone preserved the body's ability to make insulin, according to results published online June 25 in Diabetes Care.

People with diabetes visit the dentist less frequently despite link between diabetes, oral health
Adults with diabetes are less likely to visit the dentist than people with prediabetes or without diabetes, finds a new study led by researchers at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and East Carolina University's Brody School of Medicine.

Read More: Diabetes News and Diabetes Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to