Diabetic youth may try unhealthy dieting tactics

By Michelle Rizzo

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Young people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are often overweight and many turn to unhealthy weight loss practices, such as using over-the-counter diet aids without a doctor’s advice, fasting and taking laxatives, new research shows.

Dr. Jean M. Lawrence, of Kaiser Permanente Southern California, Pasadena, and colleagues studied 1742 female and 1615 males, of whom 520 had type 2 diabetes and 2837 had type 1 diabetes. The subjects’ average age was 15 years.

Roughly half of the subjects reported ever trying to lose weight, they report in the journal Diabetes Care.

“While desiring to lose weight, worrying about weight, and having ever tried to lose weight were very common and not unexpected findings among youth with type 2 diabetes, a condition that is associated with obesity, these characteristics were not uncommon among type 1 diabetic youth either, particularly among girls,” Lawrence told Reuters Health.

Among type 1 and type 2 diabetics who reported ever trying to lose weight, most tried healthy weight-loss practices, such as exercising regularly and consuming a healthy diet. However, a fair number of type 1 and type 2 diabetic youth tried unhealthy weight-loss tactics, such as fasting, using diet aids, vomiting or using laxatives, and skipping insulin doses.

In girls, these unhealthy weight-loss practices were associated with poor control of blood sugar.

Health care professionals and family members, Lawrence said, “must be aware that the approaches to weight management used by youth with diabetes will not always be healthy ones” and that unhealthy weight loss tactics “may lead to problems with diabetes management and good health for these youth.”

SOURCE: Diabetes Care, December 2008.

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