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Keywords:

  • adolescence;
  • eating disorders;
  • glycosylated haemoglobin;
  • type 1 diabetes

Aim

To describe the presence and type of disturbed eating behaviours and thoughts in a combined male/female Australian sample of adolescents with type 1 diabetes, and examine the association of eating behaviours and thoughts with glycaemic control as evidenced by high glycosylated haemoglobin levels (HbA1c).

Methods

In this cross-sectional descriptive study, 124 adolescents aged 13–18 years were invited to complete three self-administered questionnaires. The Youth Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (YEDE-Q) and the Eating Disorder Inventory −3 Risk Composite (EDI-3RC) assessed risk for an eating disorder. The third questionnaire, the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) assessed emotional and behavioural concerns. Clinical data were collected from the medical records, routine clinic appointments and the adolescent.

Results

Any disturbed eating behaviour was reported by approximately one-third of participants (32.3%) and was common in females and males (37.9% vs. 25.9%). Binge eating (17.7%), driven exercise (13.0%) and dietary restraint (8.9%) were the most common disturbed eating behaviours, although restraint was not evident in males. Insulin manipulation/omission (5.6%), vomiting (3.3%), laxative (0.8%) or diuretic use (0.8%) were less common. Regression analysis showed a significant association between HbA1c and more disturbed eating behaviours and thoughts which remained significant when adjusted for confounders.

Conclusions

High rates of disturbed eating behaviours and thoughts were seen in this Australian sample of adolescents with type 1 diabetes. High scores on both eating disorder measures were associated with poorer glycaemic control. These results highlight the need to screen for disordered eating in adolescents with type 1 diabetes.