Predictors of Disordered Eating Behaviors in Teens With Type 1 Diabetes

Boy eating Hamburger
Boy eating Hamburger
Investigators examine characteristics associated with disordered eating behaviors in teenagers with type 1 diabetes.

Disordered eating behaviors in teenagers with type 1 diabetes are associated with several factors including depressive symptoms, poorer quality of life, infrequent blood glucose monitoring, and obesity, according to a recent study published in Diabetic Medicine.

Researchers conducted this cross-sectional study to establish the biomedical and psychosocial characteristics of teenagers with type 1 diabetes who develop moderate and high levels of disordered eating behaviors. Included in the study were 178 teenagers (average age, 14.9 years) with average diabetes duration of 7.4 years. Participants self-reported data on insulin regimen and blood glucose monitoring frequency and completed several surveys covering factors such as their diabetes management, quality of life, and disordered eating behaviors.

Overall, 59% of all participants had low, 26% had moderate, and 15% had high levels of disordered eating behaviors. Significantly more girls than boys fell into the moderate range (34% vs 19%) and high range (20% vs 10%) of disordered eating behaviors (P =.003). In addition, girls accounted for 62% of the moderate group and 65% of the high group, but only 37% of the low group.

There were no between-group differences regarding age, diabetes duration, race, family structure, insulin regimen, daily insulin dose, and HbA1c. Participants in the high group reported checking their glucose level less often than those in the low group (P =.0006), had significantly higher HbA1C levels (P =.01), and were more likely to be obese (P =.0003).

Levels of disordered eating behaviors increased as treatment adherence, blood glucose monitoring, quality of life, and depressive symptoms worsened (all P <.0001). This was also true for diabetes-specific family conflict (P =.01).

The researchers cited the study’s cross-sectional design as its main limitation.

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Concluding their results, the researchers said, “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.”

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Cecilia-Costa R, Volkening LK, Laffel LM. Factors associated with disordered eating behaviours in adolescents with type 1 diabetes [published online December 24, 2018]. Diabetic Medicine. doi:10.1111/dme.13890