Eating Disorders in Girls and Women With Type 1 Diabetes: A Longitudinal Study of Prevalence, Onset, Remission, and Recurrence

Patricia A Colton, Marion P Olmsted, Denis Daneman, Jamie C Farquhar, Harmonie Wong, Stephanie Muskat, Gary M Rodin
Diabetes Care 2015, 38 (7): 1212-7

OBJECTIVE: Girls and women with type 1 diabetes are at increased risk for developing eating disorders (EDs), and these disorders are associated with serious diabetes-related medical complications. This study describes the longitudinal course of disturbed eating behavior (DEB) and EDs in a cohort with type 1 diabetes.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: A total of 126 girls with type 1 diabetes receiving care for diabetes at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto participated in a series of seven interview-based assessments of ED behavior and psychopathology over a 14-year period, beginning in late childhood. Survival analysis was used.

RESULTS: Mean age was 11.8 ± 1.5 years at time 1 and 23.7 ± 2.1 years at time 7. At time 7, 32.4% (23/71) met the criteria for a current ED, and an additional 8.5% (6/71) had a subthreshold ED. Mean age at ED onset (full syndrome or below the threshold) was 22.6 years (95% CI 21.6-23.5), and the cumulative probability of onset was 60% by age 25 years. The average time between onset of ED and subsequent ED remission was 4.3 years (95% CI 3.1-5.5), and the cumulative probability of remission was 79% by 6 years after onset. The average time between remission of ED and subsequent recurrence was 6.5 years (95% CI 4.4-8.6), and the cumulative probability of recurrence was 53% by 6 years after remission.

CONCLUSIONS: In this longitudinal study, EDs were common and persistent, and new onset of ED was documented well into adulthood. Further research regarding prevention and treatment for this vulnerable group is urgently needed.

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