Eating Disorders and Disordered Eating Symptoms in Adolescents with Type 1 Diabetes

Nutrients. 2017 Aug 19;9(8):906. doi: 10.3390/nu9080906.


Eating problems in adolescents with type 1 diabetes (T1D) can be divided into two groups. The first includes the diagnosed eating disorders (EDs), i.e., diseases specifically identified by defined signs and symptoms for which a degree of severity has been established, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge-eating disorder, pica, and rumination. The second is the group of disordered eating symptoms (DES), which include behaviors such as dieting for weight loss, binge eating, self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise, and laxative or diuretic use; these behaviors cannot be categorized as complete diseases, and, although apparently mild, they must be closely evaluated because they can evolve into true EDs. In this review, present knowledge about the clinical relevance of EDs and DES and the possible preventive and therapeutic measures used to reduce their impact on the course of T1D will be discussed. As adolescents with diabetes are at higher risk of eating disturbances and consequently for higher rates of disease complications, care providers should pay attention to clinical warning signs that raise suspicion of disturbed eating to refer these patients early to an expert in nutrition and mental health disorders. To ensure the best care for adolescents with T1D, diabetes teams should be multidisciplinary and include a pediatric diabetologist, a skilled nurse, a dietician, and a psychologist.

Keywords: adolescents; disordered eating symptoms; eating disorders; type 1 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anorexia Nervosa / diagnosis
  • Anorexia Nervosa / epidemiology*
  • Binge-Eating Disorder / diagnosis
  • Binge-Eating Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Bulimia Nervosa / diagnosis
  • Bulimia Nervosa / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / diagnosis
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires