Diabulimia, a Dangerous Way For Diabetics to Lose Weight

Diabulimia has not yet been recognized by the medical community but what you are about to read is a new and scary trend being called diabulimia and it is the adjusting insulin to lose weight.
While it is becoming a common practice in young teen girls and young women it is also affecting boys and men also.  A recent article written by Rosemary Black, not only caught my eye but shocked me because we all know the importance of insulin to a diabetic is “quality of life or life threatening consequences.” 

Withholding Insulin for Weight Loss
By Rosemary Black, Reviewed by QualityHealth’s Medical Advisory Board

“It’s most common in teenage girls who are very concerned about body image,” she says. “This allows them to eat as much as they want without gaining weight.”

The most immediate consequence of withholding insulin is a high blood sugar, explains Stuart Weiss, MD, an assistant clinical professor at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. “They feel very sick with all the symptoms hyperglycemia brings,” he says. “That’s the short term. One long term consequence is that they develop bad eating habits. They think they can eat a lot and they lose their ability to regulate food.”

Among the consequences facing someone who engages in this practice, McNally says, are dehydration, fatigue, as well as stunted growth and development in the teen years.

While diabulimia so far is not a recognized medical term, it’s a risky, worrisome practice for a diabetic. “It’s a pretty common phenomenon,” McNally says. And it’s important to note that it doesn’t just happen to young women. It can affect men, too, as well as women who might be trying to lose weight after having a baby.”

If you’re wondering whether your daughter or someone else in your life could be abusing insulin, here are the warning signs to watch for, McNally says:

  • Chronically high blood sugar
  • Being hungrier than usual
  • A high hemoglobin A1C (if this suddenly becomes elevated, it’s a sign something may be going on, McNally says)
  • Missed menstrual periods
  • An unwillingness to go to the doctor for routine appointments
  • Very low energy level.

And if you suspect that someone you know is trying to lose weight by abusing insulin, seek medical help. Not only are there short and long term health consequences, but not taking necessary insulin can be deadly.

Purposely withholding insulin shortens one’s lifespan, McNally says. “The death rate for diabetics is about three times higher for those who are abusing insulin,” she explains.

Updated: January 14, 2011
Copyright © 2011 QualityHealth.com. All rights reserved.
I personally never thought of people withholding their insulin for the purpose of losing weight and the diabetes complications are to great of a risk, I had a parent and grandparents that were type 1 diabetics and a grandparent, sibling and myself are type 2 diabetics, it is a daily battle to balance blood sugar levels, exercise, family, friends and careers, I cannot imagine how diabulimia will affect the Diabetic Community. If you have diabetic family members or friends that you suspect are juggling insulin to lose weight, please encourage them to talk to their parents or their Diabetic Health Providers.
If this article on diabulimia has helped you in any way please let us know.