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A Review of Risk Factors Associated with Insulin Omission for Weight Loss in Type 1 Diabetes

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

Publication date1/07/2021
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Issue number3
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Research suggests that as many as 60% of people with type 1 diabetes (T1D) admit to misusing insulin. Insulin omission (IO) for the purpose of weight loss, often referred to as diabulimia, is a behaviour becoming increasingly recognised, not least since prolonged engagement can lead to serious vascular complications and mortality.
Several risk factors appear to be relevant to the development of IO, most notably; gender, anxiety and depression, and increased weight concerns and body dissatisfaction. Evidence suggests that women, especially young girls, are more likely to omit insulin as a method of weight loss compared to men. Mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression are increasingly prevalent in people with T1D compared to their peers, and appear to contribute to the risk of IO. Increased weight concerns and body dissatisfaction are further prominent risk factors, especially given increases in weight which often occur following diagnosis, and the monitoring of weight by diabetes teams.
This review presents evidence examining these risk factors which increase the likelihood of a person with T1D engaging in IO, and highlights the complications associated with prolongment of the behaviour. Further research looking at the comorbidities of these risk factors, alongside other factors, would provide greater insight into understanding IO in people with T1D.