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Australian girls with diabetes at an increased risk for eating disorders

The pressure to be thin is so great in modern society that many people risk their health and their lives to get down to the perfect size. Now a new weight loss trend has emerged, with diabetics stopping their insulin shots to shed weight.

There aren’t many quick fixes in life that actually work. As the saying goes, if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Stacey Williams, a 23-year-old diabetic from West Sussex in England, realised that she could lose weight just by not taking her insulin shots, but she couldn’t have imagined how damaging the results could be.

Teased about her weight at school, Williams says she became so depressed by the name-calling and bullying that she stopped taking her insulin altogether, realising the longer she went without the life-saving medication, the more weight she would lose. She went from 76 kilograms down to 57 kilograms, losing close to 2 kilograms per week.

More: The women leading the charge in the body-positive movement

The weight-loss fads just keep getting scarier, don’t they? And it is happening in Australia, too. Children as young as 8, if not younger, are being diagnosed with eating disorders and anorexia appreciation pages have popped up all over the internet, with young people sharing photos of the emaciated for inspiration to skip meals and stay thin. Now, according to new research, a staggering three-quarters of diabetics are dealing with negative body image, which could also lead to them skipping their insulin jabs.

Williams says she never realised the detrimental effect forgoing her medication could have on her body, and neither do Australian women. According to the Australian Diabetes Council, “Teenage girls with type 1 diabetes are twice as likely to experience an eating disorder than teenage girls without diabetes.

“For a person living with diabetes, regimented eating plans and insulin adjustment (often since early childhood) can lead to problematic relationships with food. Manipulation of insulin is extremely dangerous, and can lead to potentially life-threatening [results].”

Williams is now left with bald patches and has to wear hairpieces to fill in the bare spots on her scalp. She also has permanent eye damage and has low physical strength and energy.

“Even though I also read it can also make you really ill, I really didn’t care about the future, I knew I had to lose weight to get happy again,” Williams said. “I even thought that going to hospital would be better than being bullied at school.”

More: 7 Steps to a positive body image

For more information, or if you think someone you know is a diabetic suffering from an eating disorder, contact Diabetes Counselling Online.

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