Objective: To study eating and emotional disorders in adolescent insulin-dependent diabetic (IDDM) girls.
Methods: 98 adolescent girls, aged 13-19 years, were studied: 15 obese and 37 non-obese IDDM girls, 22 obese non-diabetic and 24 non-obese girls, DSM-III-R eating disorders (anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, eating disorders NOS) and eating habits (snacking, sweet compulsions) were evaluated by a semi-structured diagnostic interview (Kiddie-SADS-E and Eating Habits Interview). Emotional disorders were assessed using self-questionnaires (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory for Children, Beck Depression Inventory, Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory). Psychological characteristics were correlated with BMI and, for IDDM girls, with HbA1C.
Results: IDDM and non-diabetic obese girls showed high rates of eating disorders NOS (sub-clinical bulimia: 60 and 41%, respectively) and they had more extra-snacks than non-obese girls, suggesting that obesity was the main risk factor for additional eating disorders. However, non-obese IDDM girls had more eating disorders NOS (sub-clinical bulimia: 27%) than did the normal girls (4%). Three IDDM girls had typical bulimia nervosa, while none of the non-diabetic did. The risk of depression was increased by both IDDM and obesity (16 and 18% dysthymia, respectively; 8% in normal girls); both factors cumulated in obese IDDM girls (47% dysthymia). Obesity was linked to marked changes in self-esteem scores and mild effects on anxiety. IDDM had little effect on anxiety and none on self-esteem; it even seemed to preserve the self-esteem of obese girls. Patients with bulimia nervosa had poorer metabolic control than other girls with IDDM. There was no correlation between HbA1C and eating or emotional disorders.
Conclusions: Adolescent IDDM girls are at increased risk of eating and emotional disorders. Obesity appears to be an important factor for psychiatric complications; more obese IDDM girls suffered from eating disorders NOS sub-clinical bulimia), dysthymia, anxiety disorders, depression and low self-esteem (Family Satisfaction SEI sub-score) than did non-obese IDDM girls.