Young girls with type-one diabetes have discovered they can lose weight by skipping insulin doses. It's being compared to bulimia and can have lifelong consequences for their health. In this week's Dealing with Diabetes report, Eye on Health hears more about what's being called dia-bullimia.
As a young woman growing up with diabetes, Theresa Moore knows how tough it can be to fit in. And for some insulin-dependent teenagers, being overweight makes it that much harder.
"Look at you, you're not dressing right. You're not in the cool clothes. Cause the cool clothes is the thin clothes. Just like the magazines say, this is cool. This is cool in the summer. This is what you're suppose to be wearing," said Theresa.
Las Vegas pediatric endocrinologist, Asheesh Dewan says there's a growing trend for teenaged diabetics to skip their insulin doses, which causes weight loss. And while they may not feel any differently at the time, there could be a high price to pay later with organ damage to the eyes, heart and kidneys.
"This damage builds up," said Dr. Dewan. "It's like a car that keeps getting dents. You can't just fix it. These are permanent dents that stay for life. So the young children in the invulnerability of their youth, they don't realize this is going to have life-long consequences for me."
"I feel fine with my sugars 3... 400. That's what most kids are thinking. I've heard it at camps. I've seen it through kids. Oh, I feel good, it doesn't matter," said Theresa.
Dr. Dewan says that teens find clever ways of keeping their parents from knowing that they're skipping their shots or medication.
"What they do is, they will write down false numbers in their log book. So it gives the appearance of good control. So the parent says everything looks good. But they're really in poor control," said Dr. Dewan.
Dr. Dewan says that teenage boys with type-one diabetes are also skipping insulin to lose weight. But the problem is primarily among girls. Unexplained weight loss may be a clue for parents.
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