Do You Have Diabulimia?

Diabulimia occurs when people with type 1 diabetes misuse insulin to lose weight. This is a dangerous practice associated with profound health risks. Instead of sharing a self-assessment test here, we encourage you to contact a medical professional if you suspect that you or a loved one are struggling with diabulimia.

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Diabulimia (ED-DMT1) Can Be Life-Threatening

Given the serious health risks associated with diabulimia, it is crucial that, rather than attempt a self-assessment quiz, you immediately seek a professional clinical assessment.

If you have been diagnosed with Type I Diabetes and you manipulate your insulin in order to change or maintain your body size, we can help.

To speak confidentially with one of our Master's-level clinicians about your concerns, please call us at 877-825-8584 today.

The Definition of Diabulimia (ED-DMT1)

Diabulimia is not an official eating disorder diagnosis. Eating Recovery Center’s Dr. Ovidio Bermudez offers a clinical definition of diabulimia: “The dual diagnosis of an  eating disorder and type 1 diabetes is often referred to as ‘diabulimia,’ although this is not a medically recognized term and it is not an accurate description.”

The best and most accurate definition of this condition is to call it Dual Diagnosis of Eating Disorder and Diabetes Mellitus Type 1 (ED-DMT1). However, many people still refer to this illness as diabulimia.


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Is it Safe to Use Insulin for Weight Loss?

Some people with type 1 diabetes rely on insulin manipulation as an easy and effective weight loss method. While it is extremely dangerous to manipulate insulin, some people with type 1 diabetes intentionally misuse insulin as a weight-loss tool by:

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

After one manipulates their insulin, sugar will be eliminated from the body via urination, instead of being stored as fat or used as fuel. The result? The individual loses weight, essentially “purging” themselves of calories.

The most concerning health complication that occurs with ED-DMT1 is an increased risk of death. Other health complications associated with ED-DMT1 are very serious, including nerve damage, retina damage, kidney and cardiac problems.

Diabetes and Eating Disorders: What the Research Shows

Type 1 diabetes is a risk factor for eating disorders and diabulimia is associated with an increased mortality risk, as referenced in the studies below.

  • Having type 1 diabetes puts an individual at increased risk for developing an eating disorder or disordered eating behaviors.1 Females with type 1 diabetes are twice as likely as their non-diabetic peers to be diagnosed with an eating disorder.
  • ED-DMT1 (diabulimia) is also associated with a significantly increased mortality risk. In one study, the risk of death for ED-DMT1 was 17-fold compared to type 1 diabetes alone and seven-fold compared to anorexia nervosa alone.2
  • Another study found that as many as 35 percent of young adult women with type 1 diabetes met the criteria for a “sub-threshold” eating disorder (symptoms of an eating disorder that do not meet full diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder). As many as 11 percent of these young women met the criteria for a full syndrome eating disorder.3

When someone with type 1 diabetes constantly or frequently talks about their weight, has a negative body image, or is obsessed with exercise or food — pay attention — and encourage them to seek help.

Discover More Eating Disorder Screening Tests

There are many different types of eating disorders. All are associated with many serious health complications and risks. See additional eating disorder screening tests below.

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