Type 2 diabetes risk increases with binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa

Type 2 diabetes risk increases with binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosaBulimia nervosa, an eating disorder increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. Bulimia nervosa is when a person binges and purges food. This means they will consume large amounts of food only to expel it from their body immediately afterward. This can be done through vomiting or with the use of laxatives. Causes of bulimia nervosa can range from psychological, biological, social and cultural influences.

Type-2 diabetes is a condition where the body becomes resistant to insulin or doesn’t produce enough of it. The body’s metabolism becomes affected – this is how the body breaks-down food in order to use it for energy. Causes of type-2 diabetes could be genetic, environmental, result from obesity or lack of physical activity.


You may be wondering what an eating disorder and type-2 diabetes have in common, well, they’re more closely related than you’d think. Research has shown a strong link between rates of type-2 diabetes and patients with bulimia nervosa.

The findings, published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, revealed patients with bulimia nervosa have higher rates of type-2 diabetes.

The study took 2,342 patients being treated for bulimia nervosa and compared them with 9,368 controls over the course of 16 years. Incidences of type-2 diabetes were examined in three stages: before treatment of the bulimia nervosa, entering treatment for bulimia nervosa until the end of the study and combined time before, during and after treatment.

The risk of type-2 diabetes was increased in comparison to the controls prior to entering treatment. By the end of the study the lifetime prevalence of type-2 diabetes was 5.2 percent – this compared to 1.7 percent in the controls. Also at the end of the study, every third patient treated for a binge-eating disorder had type-2 diabetes, as did those with bulimia nervosa (4.4 percent).

The researchers suggest the disturbed glucose metabolism may contribute to the onset of type-2 diabetes.

Risk factors of type-2 diabetes, aside from a binge-eating disorder

There are other risk factors aside from a binge-eating disorder which can put you at greater risk of developing type 2-diabetes. They include:

  • Being overweight
  • Fat distribution – fat stored primarily around the abdomen has been linked with a higher risk of type-2 diabetes
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Family history
  • Race – type-2 diabetes is more prevalent among African-Americans, Hispanics, American Indians and Asian-Americans
  • Age – type-2 diabetes is more prevalent in those over the age of 45, although it can occur at any age
  • Having pre-diabetes
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome

Bulimia nervosa symptoms and prevention

Symptoms of bulimia nervosa include:

  • A preoccupation with body weight and shape
  • Fear of gaining weight
  • A feeling of being unable to control how much you eat
  • Eating to the point of discomfort or pain
  • Eating large amounts of food in one sitting (binging)
  • Forcing yourself to vomit
  • Abusing laxatives or enemas
  • Restricting calories between binges
  • Using dietary supplements to promote weight loss

Although there is no sure-fire way to prevent bulimia nervosa, prevention of bulimia nervosa may include fostering a positive and healthy body image among your children. Speaking with a healthcare professional can help you better identify the signs of bulimia nervosa in order for you to help a friend or loved one who may be suffering from it.

Symptoms of binge-eating disorder and prevention

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of a binge-eating disorder include:

  • Eating unusually large amounts of food
  • Eating even when you’re full or not hungry
  • Eating rapidly during binge episodes
  • Eating until you’re uncomfortably full
  • Frequently eating alone
  • Feeling that your eating behavior is out of control
  • Feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty or upset about your eating
  • Experiencing depression and anxiety
  • Feeling isolated and having difficulty talking about your feelings
  • Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss
  • Losing and gaining weight repeatedly, also called “yo-yo” dieting

Similar to bulimia nervosa, binge-eating prevention may be difficult; recognizing the signs of a binge-eating disorder along with promoting a positive body image may deter a person from developing a binge-eating disorder.

There are many consequences from binge-eating disorders as well as bulimia nervosa, aside from type-2 diabetes. Eating disorders can contribute to heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gallbladder disease and even cancer. It’s important that a person with a binge-eating disorder seek help – whether through therapy or medical intervention – in order to help them regain their health.

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