Diabetic Dieters Take Big Risks

Skipping insulin as weight-loss technique leads to early death
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2008 8:10 AM CST
Diabetic Dieters Take Big Risks
Diabetes sufferer Lee Ann Thill, 34, looks at her insulin pump after using her glucose meter to check her blood sugar at her home in Magnolia, N.J., Monday June 11, 2007. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 5 years old and bulimia at 14, Thill grew obsessed with food and weight. The warnings from doctors...   (Associated Press)

Psychologists studying eating habits in type 1 diabetics have found that women who cut back on their insulin as a weight management tactic—and 30% do—triple their chances of dying young. Women who restrict their insulin use have higher rates of kidney disease and foot problems, and die on average at 45, compared to 58 for other type 1 diabetics, reports USA Today.

This insulin-deprivation tendency often occurs in tandem with eating disorders like bulimia; both strategies allow a person to eat more without gaining weight. But while all eating disorders are damaging, this study shows that the cost for insulin-restricters is especially high. "This is a dramatic and very dangerous way to purge calories from the body," says the study's author. (Read more diabetes stories.)

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