Aim: To determine the natural history and psychosocial predictors of disturbed eating behaviour in girls with Type 1 diabetes (T1D) over a 1-year period.
Methods: One hundred and six girls with T1D, 9-13 years of age at Time 1, completed a Children's Eating Disorder Examination (cEDE) interview at Time 1 and again 1 year later (Time 2). Potential Time 1 predictors of Time 2 disturbed eating behaviour were body mass index (BMI), self-esteem, depressive symptoms, attachment to parents, and parental eating attitudes. Glycated haemoglobin (HbA(1c)) was measured.
Results: Disturbed eating behaviour was reported by 14% (15/106) of girls at Time 1, and 17% (18/106) at Time 2, and persisted in 8/15 girls over 1 year. Lower self-esteem, higher BMI and more disturbed maternal eating attitudes at Time 1 accounted for 35% of the variance in Time 2 cEDE score, while higher BMI and more disturbed attachment to one's mother predicted new-onset disturbed eating behaviour at Time 2. Glycaemic control was not associated with or predicted by disturbed eating behaviour.
Conclusions: There was only moderate stability in disturbed eating behaviour status over a 1-year period. In this preliminary study, disturbed eating behaviour was associated with and, to a lesser degree, predicted by physical, psychological and family factors. Although the long-term clinical course of the mild disturbances identified is not known, prevention and early intervention efforts in this high-risk medical group should begin in the pre-teen years, and should probably target multiple factors in order to prevent the persistence and worsening of disturbed eating behaviour and its medical sequelae.