Disordered Eating in Adolescents with Type 1 Diabetes

Overweight child eating and watching televisionDisordered eating is a problem for some adolescents living with type 1 diabetes, and more efforts should be made to help reduce the long-term health impacts of poor eating habits in these patients, according to a new study.

The study, “Disordered eating behaviors are associated with poorer diet quality in adolescents with type 1 diabetes,” examined the long-term health consequences of disordered eating in young people with type 1 diabetes. It appears in the November 2012 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The researchers examined data on 151 adolescents with type 1 diabetes. Approximately half of the participants (48%) were female. The researchers looked for associations between participants’ disordered eating habits and their dietary attitudes, diet quality, and management of type 1 diabetes.

The study participants were recruited between July 2008 and February 2009. All of the participants filled out 3-day diet records and answered survey questions about their eating habits (including questions that measured their dietary attitudes). Data was also obtained using the Diabetes Eating Problem Survey (DEPS).

Individuals who scored more than 1 standard deviation above the average DEPS score were said to be at-risk for disordered eating. The results of the study showed that adolescents who were at-risk for disordered eating had a higher likelihood of being overweight or obese than the participants who had a low risk of poor eating habits.

Additionally, those in the at-risk group had a higher total fat and saturated fat intake, as well as worse diet quality. At-risk participants also had greater barriers to healthy eating, negative expectations about their dietary practices, lower self-efficacy, worse dietary satisfaction, lower diabetes adherence, higher hemoglobin A1c, and less-frequent monitoring of their blood glucose.

The study authors conclude that their results demonstrate the need for more attention to weight management and healthy eating practices in adolescents with type 1 diabetes.

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