Prevalence of disordered eating behaviors in diabetics probed

December 10, 2008

AUGUSTA, Ga. - Children with diabetes are at an increased risk for developing eating disorders and researchers want to know if it's their disease or treatment that's to blame.

"Diabetes treatment prescribes obsessive food behavior, such as carbohydrate restriction," said Dr. Deborah Young-Hyman, pediatric psychologist in the Medical College of Georgia's Georgia Prevention Institute. "We want to know if those prescribed behaviors contribute to disordered eating and/or whether there are physiological mechanisms which prevent children with diabetes from controlling their eating behavior. For example, treatment with insulin makes you hungry and can cause you to gain weight."

There is some unfortunate synergy: diabetes makes it difficult to control blood glucose and disordered eating behavior does as well, Dr. Young-Hyman said.

Over the next three years, with funding from the American Diabetes Association, she and researchers at Emory and Harvard universities will study 90 children age 10-17 newly-diagnosed with diabetes or transitioning to an insulin pump. They will monitor treatment patterns, weight, psychological adjustment and attitudes about weight and eating. They'll also look at changes in eating patterns and blood sugar levels in response to insulin.

Children and their parents will answer computer-based questionnaires about eating behaviors and psychological adjustment - in the context of their disease and its treatment.

These include questions about parental attitudes, family factors, personality of the child and parents and perceived societal attitudes.

"As they are diagnosed and are adjusting to diabetes treatment, children are already dealing with all sorts of issues that put them at an increased risk for eating disorders. The psychological issues that come with the diagnosis can add to that risk," she said. "There is also the existing drive for thinness that exists in our society, dealing with the diagnosis and management of a long-term illness and the psychological adjustment that comes with that."

Even the insulin the children must take may be a factor. "Large doses can lead to uncontrolled hunger, which can be mislabeled as disordered eating behavior. Patients with type 1 diabetes also lose amylin production - a hormone responsible for gastric emptying and associated with feelings of fullness - that can also lead to increased feelings of hunger," Dr. Young-Hyman said.

Study findings could support a different treatment approach.

"We might come to understand that putting a child or adolescent on an insulin pump sooner rather than later and providing them with a more flexible nutrition regimen could decrease their insulin needs and prevent excess hunger," she said. "If we don't approach weight control as dieting, place less emphasis on food restriction and focus on healthy nutrition and usual eating patterns, we can help patients gain more control over their eating behaviors and their treatment without adoption of maladaptive weight management strategies. Studies indicate that feeling in control of your illness is one of the keys to successful treatment and good psychological adjustment."

Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University

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