Diabulimia Overview

What is diabulimia?

Diabulimia is a non-clinical term describing the diagnosis of an eating disorder in an individual with type 1 diabetes. Among healthcare professionals, this diagnosis is sometimes referred to as ED-DMT1.

Individuals suffering from diabulimia intentionally misuse insulin for weight control, including:

  • Decreasing the prescribed dose of insulin
  • Omitting insulin entirely
  • Delaying the appropriate dose
  • Or, manipulating the insulin itself to render it inactive.

Health risks of diabulimia can include hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels) and glucose excretion in the urine, which causes weight loss. In a sense, calories are “purged” this way, hence the term diabulimia.

Diagnosis among type 1 diabetics can be difficult

A person with diabetes who also suffers from an eating disorder may not be diagnosed with bulimia specifically or have any other symptoms of bulimia (binge eating, self-induced vomiting, etc.), while others may only withhold insulin after they have binged as a method of purging.

And, people with diabulimia may exhibit any number of eating disorder behaviors — or they may only manipulate their insulin and otherwise have normal eating patterns.

Diabulimia is not an official eating disorder diagnosis or a medically recognized term. It is a descriptive term for an observed behavior and is used widely in popular culture. While the term itself is inaccurate, it underscores a real and very serious pattern of disordered eating.

Treatment for type 1 diabetics exhibiting diabulimia behavior

There are serious and potentially lethal consequences if someone with type 1 diabetes is manipulating insulin as a method of weight control. If you or you someone you know is exhibiting diabulimia symptoms, please contact us immediately at 877-825-8584.

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