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Disordered eating linked to diet and depressive symptoms in teenagers with type 1 diabetes


Disordered eating behaviours in young people with type 1 diabetes are linked to a variety of dietary factors and depressive symptoms, research says.

Disordered eating behaviours (DEBs) were investigated in nearly 200 teenagers aged 14, on average, who had been living with type 1 diabetes for an average seven-and-a-half years.

keywordObesity, poor quality of life, infrequent blood glucose monitoring and depressive symptoms were among the associated factors investigated.

The research team, made up of scientists from Spain and the US, aimed to assess the occurrence of DEBs among the teenagers and compare characteristics.

They asked the participants and their parents to provide demographic information and insulin regimen data over the course of the study period.

The teenagers also gave further information about their blood glucose habits, quality of life and their eating habits. The findings were then categorised depending on what was reported.

The researchers said 59% who took part in the study had ‘low’ levels of disordered eating, 26% had a ‘moderate’ level, and 15% showed signs of a ‘high’ level.

There was also a gender trend, with more girls than boys in the moderate range and high ranges.

The factors associated with higher levels of DEBs were reduced frequency of blood glucose testing, lower quality of life, more symptoms of depression, higher HbA1c and diabetes-specific family conflicts.

No associations were drawn between higher DEBS and age, diabetes duration, race, family structure, insulin regimen or daily insulin dose.

The researchers concluded: “Identifying teenagers with type 1 diabetes who have moderate and high levels of disordered eating behaviours may prevent progression to eating disorders and substantial morbidity by directing support and intervention efforts to those in need.”

The findings have been published in the journal Diabetic Medicine.

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