Entries in Bulimia (16)


Diabulimia: The Dangerous Way Diabetics Drop Pounds

Courtesy of Erin Williams(NEW YORK) -- At age 14, Erin Williams was tired of medicine.  Williams was diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic at age 11, and after three years of enduring a never-ending regimen of insulin shots and strict diet restrictions, she was frustrated.

Embarrassed by her disease, she kept it a secret from everyone but her closest family and friends.  At birthday parties, she made up excuses about why she couldn't have soda or cake.  When a classmate saw her drinking juice boxes in the nurses office, she endured weeks of being called the "juice box thief" rather than just tell her classmates she had low blood sugar because of diabetes.

Eventually, Williams rebelled the only way she could, she decided not take her insulin.  She just didn't want to adhere to the strict diet and medical regimen even though it was vital to her health.

The next morning when Williams woke up, she felt fine.  Emboldened by her experiment, she continued to restrict her insulin.  

Without a regimented amount of insulin in her body to process glucose, Williams' body started to burn through fat and muscle.  She lost weight very quickly even as she ate all the same foods.  Classmates started commenting on her weight loss and remarked that she looked great.

After living with type 1 diabetes for three years, Williams was exhibiting the first signs of a disorder often called diabulimia.  The term refers to the dual diagnosis of type 1 diabetes and an eating disorder.

Many type 1 diabetics with eating disorders will not take their prescribed insulin so they can lose weight.  Deprived of insulin, the body cannot break down sugars from food to use as energy.  Instead, the body's cells break down fat already stored and try to flush out the excess sugar through the urine.

While it leads to weight loss, it can also lead to nerve damage, damaged eyesight, kidney damage and osteoporosis, among a host of other ailments.

A study from 2007 that followed diabetics who restricted their insulin over 11 years found their mortality risk was three times higher than those who did not restrict their insulin.

While anorexia or bulimia are familiar terms, diabulimia is little known, even though it can affect a significant portion of the type 1 diabetic population.  Studies and research into diabulimia are not comprehensive, but a 1994 study found that up to 30 percent of type 1 diabetic women will intentionally stop taking their insulin at some point in their lives to lose weight.

When Williams was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 11, she became one of the approximately three million Americans to suffer from the autoimmune disorder in which the pancreas does not produce insulin.  According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease every year.

Her diagnosis also meant that her chances of developing an eating disorder more than doubled.  A study from the University of Toronto found that adolescent girls with type 1 diabetes were 2.4 times more likely to suffer from an eating disorder than girls without diabetes.

Ann Goebel-Fabbri, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, has worked with many type 1 diabetic patients suffering from eating disorders at the Joslin Diabetes Center.

She said that there isn't a clear reason why type 1 diabetics have an increased risk for having an eating disorder, but she suspects that part of the problem is the way diabetics have to focus on food intake, their carb level and calories.

"The treatment itself [means] paying close attention to food and time of eating," said Goebel-Fabbri.  "Oftentimes, that can mirror an eating disorder mindset."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


EDNOS: Deadliest Eating Disorder Is Quietly the Most Common

Goodshoot/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Taylor wants to like herself, but she can't turn off the voice inside her head that tells her she's not good enough and that the way she looks isn't perfect.

"It really feels like it is a second person inside of you," she said.  "It's like your best friend but your enemy at the same time.  It's hard to distinguish sometimes the ED talking and what's Taylor talking."

"ED" is the nickname Taylor, 20, gives to her eating disorder diagnosis, which, as she puts it, was "switched all over the place."

"Originally I was diagnosed with bulimia," she said.  "Then my symptoms didn't match bulimia.  So then they diagnosed me as anorexia, binge/purge type, because there are two different types.  And then I didn't meet the weight criteria for anorexia.  So then they said, 'OK, you have EDNOS.'  And I was like, 'Well, what is that?'"

EDNOS stands for "eating disorder not otherwise specified," and up to 70 percent of all eating disorders come under the EDNOS banner.  According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 24 million people in the U.S. of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder.

Many of the EDNOS symptoms are the same as other eating disorders, such as bulimia or anorexia, but don't fully meet the criteria of those disorders.  On the other hand, EDNOS sufferers might exhibit a combination of eating disorders, such as being severely strict with counting calories but then still purging after eating.

The issues lie as much in the mind as in the meal, said Dr. Douglas Bunnell, a clinical psychologist and vice president of The Renfrew Center, a renowned eating disorder treatment program with 11 locations in nine states.

"It's still a misperception out there that these are relatively benign sorts of disorders or diets gone bad," Bunnell said.  "These are life-threatening, serious illnesses.  They have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric diagnosis."


After receiving an EDNOS diagnosis, Taylor said she felt a little disappointed, as if her condition wasn't as serious as the more well-known eating disorders.

"Because you only hear about bulimia and anorexia," she said.  "A lot of people don't think -- just because you don't meet the weight criteria, 'Oh, you don't have an eating disorder.'"

But EDNOS is a deadly condition, with a morality rate of 5.2 percent -- higher than both anorexia and bulimia -- despite the fact its sufferers often look healthy.

Watch Nightline's full report on EDNOS and those who suffer from it Wednesday at 11:35 p.m. ET.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Nicole Scherzinger Reveals 8-Year Bulimia Battle

SAV/FilmMagic(LOS ANGELES) -- As a member of the Pussycat Dolls, Nicole Scherzinger appeared to be at the height of her fame, winning MTV awards, selling albums and appearing all over the world.

Behind the scenes, however, the singer was in the midst of a nearly decade-long battle with bulimia.

“I just hated myself,” Scherzinger, 34, told VH1′s Behind the Music in a special that aired Sunday night. “I hated myself. I really was so disgusted with myself and so embarrassed. I felt so alone. I was in a group, and I never felt so alone in my life.”

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by frequent binge-eating episodes followed by "behavior that compensates for the overeating such as forced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics, fasting, excessive exercise, or a combination of these behaviors," according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).  Unlike anorexia in which someone may engage in extreme diet restrictions even when they appear underweight, bulimic behavior is typically done in secret and is often accompanied by feelings of disgust or shame, NIMH says.

In the revealing interview, Scherzinger says it was her first photo shoot with the all-female group, known for their skimpy outfits and racy dance moves, that started her downward spiral into bulimia.

“It was all new to me and I was incredibly scared,” she said.  “I was not comfortable with my body.”

While some of Scherzinger’s fellow Dolls had a hint of what their bandmate was doing to herself, Scherzinger says the fans who were buying the Dolls’ music and going to their concerts never had a hint of what was behind her smile and sexy dance moves.

“I never did drugs, but kinda doing things to myself was my addiction,” she told VH1. “It’s like when I got off stage, I was on this high, and I’d come back to my room and I’d be alone, so I would just do things. My bulimia was my addiction; hurting myself was my addiction.”

People with bulimia can usually maintain what is viewed as a normal weight. But the disorder can have devastating effects on the body such as causing heart irregularities, decreased oral health, muscle fatigue, stomach ulcers, intestinal problems, anemia and dehydration, according to the Office on Women's Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

It was only when the Pussycat Dolls disbanded in 2009, when Scherzinger was just 31-years-old, that she began therapy, she says, to save her life.

“I grew.  I started to embrace myself, as a woman and my curves,” she said.

[For information on eating disorder treatment from the Mayo Clinic, CLICK HERE.]

The former Doll went on to win Dancing With the Stars in 2010 and host The X Factor on Fox. She left the show earlier this year, replaced by new judges Demi Lovato and Britney Spears, but says she feels the best chapter in her life is still to come.

“I feel on top of the world and today I feel like the sexiest woman alive,” she told VH1.

Scherzinger’s revelation puts her in the chorus of music superstars like Lady Gaga and Christina Aguilera who have stood up recently to publicly defend their bodies.  Scherzinger says, however, that going public with her disorder was not an easy decision.

“Yeah, I’m nervous about it,” she said. “It’s embarrassing. I never spoke about it. Like I said, I never want to play a victim, and I never wanted my family to hear about things from me because I think it would break their heart, you know?”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


"What Not to Wear" Star Stacy London Reveals Eating Disorder Past

Soul Brother/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) -- What Not to Wear star Stacy London spends her days making over other people’s lives, but now the star is opening up about her own makeover past.  In her early 20s, London battled anorexia and compulsive overeating.

With extreme dieting that led to anorexia, London whittled her 5-foot-7 frame down to 90 pounds.

“I felt like I’d never had a serious boyfriend and I really wanted to be attractive,” she told People magazine.

London’s weight struggles shifted after a brief hospitalization.  The TLC star turned to binge eating, which brought her to 180 pounds a year later.

London, 43, chronicles her weight struggles in her new book, The Truth About Style, out Oct. 2.  She hopes her story will help others who battle eating disorders.

“When you can talk about something and shine light on it, you’re obliterating shame,” London said.  “And that to me was always the really hard part, to feel so filled with shame and having no recourse to thinking it could get better.”

London is no longer trying to make over her body.  She is just happy being herself.

“My value doesn’t simply come from [being thin],” she said.  “It comes from me and solely from me. It took me a long time to recognize that.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Katie Couric: ‘I Wrestled With Bulimia’

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Katie Couric reveals on her show today that she struggled with bulimia from her late teens to her early 20s.

“I wrestled with bulimia all through college, and for two years after that,” the talk show host tells eating disorders specialist Cynthia Bulik, according to a transcript of today’s show obtained by ABC News.

Couric’s revelation comes amid her interview today with pop star and X Factor judge Demi Lovato, who has also battled eating disorders.

“I know this rigidity, this feeling that if you eat one thing that’s wrong, you’re full of self-loathing and then you punish yourself, whether it’s one cookie or a stick of gum that isn’t sugarless, that I would sometimes beat myself up for that,” Couric says on today’s show, which airs on ABC at 3 p.m.

Bulik praises Couric for coming forward with her struggle and showing others that it’s possible to recover from an eating disorder.

“It’s like you can look into the future and someone can say, ‘This is possible. Recovery is possible. I can change my thoughts that way.’ And just the honesty behind saying, ‘Yeah, I do still struggle. And these thoughts do come into my mind sometimes.’ But just knowing that you can get past that, and learning strategies from someone who’s been there, that’s what it’s all about in terms of recovery,” Bulik says.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Eating Disorders in Older Women on the Rise

David De Lossy/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- While many attribute eating disorders to teen girls and young women, experts say there may be a growing number of older people who experience the same struggles.  Whether there is more awareness and diagnoses remains unclear, but many clinical experts said they have seen a spike in women over 40 seeking treatment in recent years.

The triggers may be different among different age groups, but traumatic life events tend to trigger or contribute to eating disorders, no matter the age, said Susie Roman, program coordinator at the National Eating Disorders Association.  When older women experience eating disorders, most of the time it is due to an earlier eating disorder that has resurfaced, but not always.  New cases and those that resurface can be triggered by divorce, death of a loved one or children moving away.

"Older women who have eating disorders that return can often have a harder time changing since the behaviors are so a part of them but whether the eating disorder is different is not clear," said Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University at St. Louis.

"A common perception of eating disorders is that it's all about food and weight," said Sarah Parker, director of anxiety and eating disorders at the Reeds Treatment Center in New York.  "On the surface, they are, but it is issues related to significant interpersonal stressors, and they end up coping with these stressors by controlling what they eat or how they look."

More than 10 million Americans suffer from bulimia, anorexia or other types of eating disorders, according to the National Eating Disorders Association, and millions more suffer from binge eating.

Older women often fly under the radar with their disorders, though.  Doctors are much more apt to notice eating disorders in teens who have lost an excessive amount of weight, or, if a young woman stops menstruating -- a telltale sign of anorexia -- a doctor will investigate further.  Parents are usually involved with the feeding and care of teens, and because of this, family, friends and physicians are more likely to become skeptical of a change in eating and exercise habits.

While the health risks of an eating disorder are damaging at any age, older women are at an even increased risk because their bodies have aged more, said Parker.

"There can be significant damage to the heart and heart muscles," said Parker.  "In really severe cases, the heart can stop functioning.  Fat stores in the brain can become depleted and affect cognitive and neurological functioning.  It can also result in osteoporosis and organ failure."

If friends or family do suspect a person is suffering from an eating disorder, Parker encouraged people to remember that the illness is an "expression of pain."

"Families and friends tend to say, 'you should eat more,' or 'you need to exercise less,' but that can turn into a negative cycle very quickly," said Parker.  "Try to respond to the pain over the behavior by saying something like 'it seems like you're not doing very well, can we help you speak with a therapist or minister?'"

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Lady Gaga Criticized for ‘Pop Singers Don’t Eat’ Twitter Post

PRNewsFoto/Interscope Records(NEW YORK) -- Lady Gaga was likely joking when she tweeted on Tuesday about eating a salad while secretly craving a cheeseburger, and added the hashtag “#PopSingersDontEat.”  But now, the singer, who’s famous for preaching a message of self-acceptance, finds herself under fire for making that comment.

Many fans reacted negatively to Gaga’s hashtag.  One wrote, “Why would you even promote a message like that? Disgusting that you’d joke about such a serious illness.”  Another added, “I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or not, but if not… Wow, that’s an awful example you’re setting.”  Yet another wrote, “what a terrible example your setting miss gaga, RT if you regret saying that!”

There was so much reaction to Gaga’s comment that the National Eating Disorder Association even took notice, posting on its Twitter account, “Huh? This is the same person who recently implored girls to stop dieting?”  Indeed, at a conference held in February at a California school, Gaga confessed to being bulimic in high school, and told the teen audience, “I’m gonna say this about girls: The dieting wars have got to stop.  Everyone just knock it off.  Because at the end of the day, it’s affecting kids your age -- and it’s making girls sick.”

While some have pointed out that Gaga has expressed the “pop singers don’t eat” idea before in a past interview, others say that Gaga’s frequent tweets about getting drunk probably set a worse example and nobody seems to be getting upset about those.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


'Thinspiration' Boards on Pinterest Encourage Eating Disorders

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Pictures of jutting bones, concave stomachs and toothpick thighs are sprinkled throughout a handful of boards on the visually-driven social networking site Pinterest, providing “thinspiration” for men and women with eating disorders.

Slogans meant to encourage people in the grips of an eating disorder, such as “Whatever you eat in private, you wear in public” and “Make them regret the day they dare called you fat” are printed in fun fonts atop lean, stick-thin bodies.

“It provides community in all the wrong ways. It only seeks to keep people entrenched in self-destructive behavior,” Claire Mysko, coordinator of the National Eating Disorder Association’s Proud2beme website, told ABC News.

Mysko and NEDA reached out to blogging site Tumblr last month and worked with the company to ban pro-eating disorder content. Last year, they worked with Facebook. Mysko said she hopes Pinterest will follow suit.

A spokesperson for Pinterest told ABC News they are looking into the issue and their acceptable use policy in order to determine the best course of action.

The pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia movements, called pro-ana and pro-mia for short, have been on the Web for more than a decade, providing encouragement to men and women who have eating disorders to continue on a path of unhealthy behaviors.

“We are definitely seeing more content on these more mainstream platforms,” Mysko said.

Caitlin Boyle, a healthy-living blogger and author of the book Operation Beautiful, called the messages of the pro-eating disorder movement “thought influencers.”

“The thing I have noticed with these 'thinspiration' sites is it really normalizes distorted behavior,” she said. “It makes the viewer of this content believe their behavior is O.K. and acceptable.”

Boyle started a viral campaign, Operation Beautiful, nearly three years ago to spread positive messages. Since then, anonymous people have sent her pictures of more than 10,000 simple sticky notes in public places spreading life- and body-affirming messages. She said she’d like to see healthier messages prevail on Pinterest and other sites.

“When people view social media sites that are positive, it encourages them to think more like that, even when they leave the site,” she said.  “It can have a positive effect on their self-esteem.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Military Servicemembers at Increased Risk for Eating Disorders

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Mounting evidence suggests that eating disorders are higher among servicemembers than among civilians.

While there's not enough substantial data collected to quantify the prevalence of eating disorders among servicemembers, previous research suggests female servicemembers are 4 percent more likely to develop an eating disorder than females not in the service.

An estimated 14 percent of active duty military personnel are women, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Still, a 2009 published study in Military Medicine found no difference in the prevalence of eating disorders between West Point cadets and students at civilian colleges.

A review published in 2008 looking at nearly a decade of medical data from servicemembers diagnosed with an eating disorder, suggested that the diagnosis of eating disorders among servicemembers doubled from 1998 to 2006, although the number remained relatively small.  A majority of those diagnosed were Marines.

Experts said a combination of environmental and traditional factors place soldiers, especially women, at a higher risk for developing an eating disorder than any other group of people.

Women who report feeling deployment stress may be at a higher risk for developing eating disorders and weight loss, according to a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

According to Dr. Kim Dennis, medical director of Timberline Knolls, a residential eating disorder treatment center in Lemont, Ill., eating disorders among women in the military are underreported and often difficult to detect.

"I think that goes hand in hand with denial and minimization of eating disorders," said Dennis, whose facility sees a substantial amount of women in the military. "They're more recognized as having a substance disorder."

Eating disorders can range in forms including excessive physical activity, extreme dieting, anorexia, binging and bulimia.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New App to Improve Body Image

PRWEB/Body Beautiful(LOS ANGELES) – Body Beautiful is the first iPhone app designed to actually promote positive body image among women and girls.

The app can be found inside Apple's App Store and has already charted as a top paid app in the Health and Fitnes category. It features inspirational quotes, media articles, videos and tools to help its users garner a positive self image.

Some of the celebrity quotes featured on the app include: Tyra Banks, Demi Moore, Ralph Waldo Emerson and even Ben Stiller’s movie character, Zoolander.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio