Gender differences in disordered eating behaviors and body dissatisfaction among adolescents with type 1 diabetes: Results from diabetes MILES youth-Australia

Int J Eat Disord. 2017 Oct;50(10):1183-1193. doi: 10.1002/eat.22746. Epub 2017 Aug 30.


Objective: To examine gender differences in disordered eating behaviors (DEB) and body dissatisfaction in adolescents with type 1 diabetes. While evidence shows that female youth with type 1 diabetes are more prone to DEB compared to their peers without diabetes, little is known about male adolescents.

Method: In a national online survey, adolescents (13-19 years) with type 1 diabetes for ≥1 year completed the Diabetes Eating Problem Survey-Revised (DEPS-R), and the Body Mass Index Silhouette Matching Test (BMI-SMT) and items on binge eating and insulin omission.

Results: About 477 adolescents (mean age 16 years; 62% females) completed the DEPS-R and 431 the BMI-SMT. The DEPS-R total score was higher for females than males, with scores for females increasing with age. BMI, HbA1c , insulin omission, and binge-eating frequency were associated moderately with DEPS-R for both genders. On the BMI-SMT, 88% of females wanted to be thinner. Of the males, 76% reported body dissatisfaction; however, only 43% expressed a desire for thinness with the remainder desiring a larger body size. DEPS-R was positively associated with the discrepancy between perceived actual and ideal body size for both genders.

Discussion: A large proportion of adolescents with type 1 diabetes, particularly females reported engaging in DEB. Similarly, high rates of body dissatisfaction were reported, though ideal body shape preferences differed by gender. Given the high levels of self-reported DEB and gender-based patterns of body dissatisfaction, future research needs to examine the effectiveness of routine screening of DEB and consider implementation of stepped care approaches.

Keywords: adolescents; body dissatisfaction; disordered eating behaviors; type 1 diabetes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Bulimia / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / epidemiology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult