Type 1 diabetes and eating disorders under the spotlight in new Parliamentary inquiry

Two leading MPs have set up an inquiry looking into type 1 diabetes and eating disorders, otherwise known as T1DE. 

Lady Theresa May and Sir George Howarth have launched the Parliamentary inquiry to explore how the conditions overlap.

Data shows that around 400,000 people in the UK have type 1 diabetes. Previous research has also reported that up to 36 per cent of people living with the autoimmune condition suffer with an eating disorder.

Individuals with T1DE tend to stop taking their insulin as a way to lose weight, even though a lack of insulin in the human body can lead to serious health problems, such as Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA).

According to the NHS, DKA is a severe health complication that can happen in people with diabetes if their body starts to run out of insulin.

When this happens, harmful substances called ketones build up in the body, which can be life-threatening if it is not found and treated quickly.

Academic specialists and experts in the NHS and charity sector will be involved in the inquiry. Individuals who have overcome T1DE will also be sharing their stories.

“We see this as an important step towards better understanding this serious condition and, we hope, to make suggestions as to how those experiencing it can be helped more effectively,” said Sir George, who is also the Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Diabetes.

Theresa May, a former Prime Minister of the UK, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes ten years ago.

She said: “Living with diabetes doesn’t change what you can do but it does take some adjusting to.

“For with T1DE, it must be particularly challenging which is why we need to raise awareness of the issue; better understand the causes and help identify all those who might be struggling with this very difficult and upsetting condition.”

During the summer, a variety of evidence sessions will take place which are aimed at improving the care that the NHS provides to those living with T1DE.

Bournemouth University PhD student Ariella Thompson said: “As someone living with type 1 diabetes, who has struggled with disordered eating, and who also researches in this area, I’m intimately aware of how difficult living with T1DE can be.

“My aim in talking about my experiences has always been to help other people who might be struggling.”

She concluded: “I’m pleased to provide evidence to this inquiry which provides an important opportunity to increase understanding of a complicated and life-threatening condition at the highest levels.

“Ultimately, I hope this inquiry can lead to improved outcomes for the people with T1DE who need it most.”

Photo by Ethan Sykes on Unsplash

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