Diabetes, eating disorders and body image in young adults: an exploratory study about “diabulimia”

Maria Ana Falcão, Rita Francisco*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare disordered eating (DE) and body image dissatisfaction (BID) among young adults with type 1 diabetes and their peers without diabetes, to investigate the consequences of diabetes for food, body image and weight in individuals with diabetes and to identify the behavior of insulin omission as a weight loss strategy. Methods: Fifty-five young adults with diabetes and 73 without diabetes (ages 18–30) completed self-report questionnaires to evaluate their behaviors, attitudes and feelings related to eating disorders and their perceptions about body image. The participants with diabetes were asked to answer a questionnaire with open and closed questions developed specifically for this study. Results: No significant differences between participants with and without diabetes in relation to BID and DE were found. The results demonstrated several changes resulting from diabetes in terms of food, body image and weight that interfere with the day-to-day life of individuals with diabetes; 7.3% of these participants reported insulin omission as a weight loss strategy. Conclusions: This study emphasizes the importance of research on DE in the population with diabetes and their prevention, screening and treatment. In particular, it is essential to give more attention to insulin omission as a compensatory behavior that is inappropriate and harmful to health. Level of evidence: Level III, case-control analytic study.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)675-682
Number of pages8
JournalEating and Weight Disorders
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • Body image dissatisfaction
  • Diabetes
  • Diabulimia
  • Disordered eating
  • Omission of insulin
  • Young adults


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