National Eating Disorders Association

Diabulimia is an eating disorder which may affect those with Type 1 Diabetes.  Diabulimia is the reduction of insulin intake to lose weight.  Diabulimia is considered a dual diagnosis disorder: where one has diabetes as well as an eating disorder.  While diabulimia is generally associated with use of insulin, an individual with diabetes may also suffer from another eating disorder as well.

Health Risks of Diabulimia

  • High glucose levels               
  • Glucose in the urine
  • Exhaustion
  • Thirst
  • Inability to think clearly
  • Severe dehydration
  • Muscle loss
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis (unsafe levels of ketones in the blood)
  • High Cholesterol
  • Bacterial skin infections
  • Yeast infections
  • Menstrual disruption
  • Staph infections
  • Retinopathy
  • Neuropathy
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease
  • Atherosclerosis (a fattening of the arterial walls)
  • Steatohepatitis (a type of liver disease)
  • Stroke
  • Coma
  • Death


Possible signs of Diabulimia can include:

  • Hemoglobin A1C level of 9.0 or higher on a continuous basis.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Persistent thirst/frequent urination.
  • Preoccupation with body image.
  • Blood sugar records that do not match Hemoglobin A1c results.
  • Depression, mood swings and/or fatigue.
  • Secrecy about blood sugars, shots and or eating.
  • Repeated bladder and yeast infections.
  • Low sodium/potassium.
  • Increased appetite especially in sugary foods.
  • Cancelled doctors' appointments.


Next Steps
What do I do if I or someone I know may have diabulimia?

Contact the Helpline!  We can discuss ways to talk to friends and loved ones, refer you to diabulimia specialists, and find support.


Diabulimia Helpline. Diabulimia Helpline: Home. Retrieved November 29, 2012, from
Quizzes | Could You Have an Eating Disorder?. (n.d.). Diabetes | Type 1 Diabetes | Type 2 Diabetes. Retrieved November 29, 2012, from