Insulin Reduction to Lose Weight

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Both diabetic men and women sometimes cut back on insulin to control their weight, a Cleveland study shows.

Researcher Dr. Teresa Hermida, a psychiatry fellow at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, surveyed 280 diabetic patients visiting an endocrine clinic for a followup appointment. The group ranged in age from 12 to 90 years, and just over one-half were males.

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Dr. Hermida collected demographic information such as education level, weight and diabetes history, hoping to create a profile of patients most likely to omit or reduce their insulin for weight control.

She also asked patients about body image, whether they’d ever engaged in various eating disorder behaviours and tested their nutrition knowledge.

Overall, she found 12% of the group admitted to having cut back on their insulin for weight control.

About 10% of the insulin reducers were men. Of those, 50% were age 51 or older- a finding which surprised Dr. Hermida.

Among the admitted insulin reducers, 55% of women and 57% of men also had one or more behaviours of disordered eating or excessive exercise.

Although previous studies have shown insulin-dependent females to be at higher risk for eating disorders, no teenage girls surveyed admitted to insulin reducing.

Dr. Hermida called the finding highly “suspect,” suggesting young women are savvy about eating disorders and simply wouldn’t admit to such behaviours.

Ethics required their survey questions be direct, she said.

“You really can’t be too sneaky about how you ask people, which is again, part of the reason we think the female adolescent population probably wasn’t totally honest, because they knew what we were looking for.”

Insulin-dependent diabetics tend to have a high body mass index, which is correlated with having more concerns about their body, said Dr. Hermida.

Dr. Hermida said the results suggest educational interventions in nutrition and the potential dangers of scrimping on insulin-which include diabetic neuropathy or retinopathy-should be aimed at diabetics from all walks of life.

Source: © The Medical Post 2002

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