Purpose: This study aims to compare dieting, binge eating, and purging behaviors, and to examine predictors of binge eating and purging behaviors among adolescents with and without Diabetes Mellitus (DM).
Methods: The index group included 310 adolescents who reported that they had DM on a statewide population survey of 36,284 adolescents in grades 7-12 in Minnesota. The comparison group included a random sample matched for socioeconomic status (SES), of 850 adolescents without chronic illness. Disordered eating behaviors assessed in the present study included binge eating, vomiting, laxative use, and diuretic use. Potential predictor variables assessed included weight loss behaviors, body image, sexual abuse, sexual attractions, emotional well-being, family connectedness, poor school performance, age, race, Body Mass Index (BMI), and SES.
Results: Binge eating and purging were significantly more prevalent among adolescents with DM than among the comparison group. Different risk profiles were found for adolescents with and without DM and for males and females. Predictors of binge eating and purging among females with DM included weight dissatisfaction, bisexual/homosexual attractions, and younger age. Predictors among males with DM included bisexual/homosexual attractions, younger age, sexual abuse, and an interaction between sexual abuse and emotional well-being.
Conclusions: Adolescents with DM should be screened for unhealthy weight control practices and eating disorders. If disordered eating is present, clinicians need to be sensitive to the variety of factors possibly associated with these behaviors among different individuals.