Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

"Diabulimia": The facts

An ampule of quick-acting insulin lispro. Photo: Frank Rumpenhorst/DPA/Press Association Images

What is "Diabulimia"?

As many as one in thirty women with Type 1 Diabetes under the age of 30 are thought to be abusing their insulin to control their weight. The condition has been dubbed "diabulimia" although it's not a recognised medical term. Those with the condition deliberately skip insulin injections to help them lose weight.

How does it cause weight loss?

Without insulin, the body cannot make the most of glucose for energy, and so it breaks down fat stores instead, which causes weight loss.

What are the dangers?

A lack of insulin can cause dangerously high levels of blood glucose, which in the long term can cause things like strokes, blindness, heart attacks and kidney disease. In some cases, people may have to have limbs amputated.

What are the warning signs?

The charity Diabetes UK says there are several warnings signs to look out for, to identify Diabulimia. They are:

  • Weight loss
  • Fear of gaining weight
  • Distorted perception of body shape or weight
  • Denial of the existence of the problem
  • Changes in personality or mood swings
  • Symptoms of high blood glucose levels - thirst, passing urine frequently (especially at night), extreme tiredness.

Where can I get help?

Diabetes UK is one of the charities trying to raise awareness of the condition. You can find more information on their website, just click here or you can call their helpline on 0845 120 2960.