You may have heard about a way to lose weight called Diabulimia. Diabulimia, or insulin manipulation is a very unhealthy way of eating and it is not recommended in any situation. In this trend, individuals who are diabetic, especially younger women, are manipulating their insulin levels with the desire to lose weight. Research from Germany and Boston indicate that about a third of all diabetics who are between the ages of 15 and 30 are using this method to lose weight (source). However, there are numerous complications and risks associated with it.

Why Do People Do This?

Individuals who are diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes are often required to supplement their body’s production of insulin. Many of those who suffer from this condition will have numerous symptoms such as a constant high level of thirst or a need to urinate more often. For some, it also leads to increased hunger but also weight loss. It is because of these symptoms that some people begin using or seeing their condition as a way to lose weight.

When individuals who suffer from Type 1 diabetes begin to see weight loss occur, and they want to drop a few pounds, they see non-treatment of their condition as a solution. However, once treatment is in place, weight gain is often very common and losing weight the “normal” way isn’t easy. This leads some to develop an eating disorder as a reaction to the condition. They do not like the way they look and feel anxiety over the extra weight. This often leads to misuse of food and insulin, often by dropping the dosage of insulin consumed to allow the weight loss to play a role in helping them to lose weight.

Insulin Manipulation: A Dangerous Eating Disorder

This is called diabulimia and it is a type of eating disorder. There are treatments for this type of eating disorder which often involve working alongside medical personnel to better control the underlying diabetic condition while also improving overall understanding of the risks. And, the risks are many. Untreated or undertreated Type I diabetes can lead to loss of vision and kidney failure. It can also cause damage to the heart and depression. It increases mortality rates as well. Also seeking help with an eating disorder psychotherapist may be warranted.

If you have suffered or used diabulimia to lose weight, now is the time to take a step towards treatment. Better understanding your health as well as understanding the risks of uncontrolled diabetes can help you to regain control and help you to improve your overall health.