Letter of the Week: Teenage Weight Loss and Insulin Omission

My teenage daughter attempted weight loss by insulin omission; and besides being dangerous, it was not effective for weight loss.

May 30, 2008

Dear Diabetes Health,

I appreciated Jamie Bailes’ (April/May 2008) article on helping overweight kids. To me, it illustrated the complexity of weight regulation and the folly of linking it to one factor (fat).

However, I found the article misleading in implying that insulin (not insulin imbalance) is the main cause of weight gain, in comparing type 1 diabetes with type 2, and in stating that girls with type 1 diabetes “know that insulin causes them to gain weight.”

Is there any evidence that type 1 diabetics have more obesity than nondiabetics or that insulin causes them to gain excess weight?

My teenage daughter attempted weight loss by insulin omission; and besides being dangerous, it was not effective for weight loss. She was overtaken by DKA before she could lose many pounds, and the experience of starving led her to develop a binge eating compulsion that made weight and health maintenance a nightmare. Ironically, she actually did lose some weight while eating a conventional diet and taking insulin while living at an eating disorder center.


Jo Ann Bennett
Snohomish, WA

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Categories: Diabetes, Diabetes, Diets, Insulin, Insulin Omission, Losing weight, Nutrition Advice, Type 1 Issues, Type 2 Issues, Weight Loss

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Posted by volleyball on 20 October 2008

From what I have learned, I think you are wording it incorrectly. It goes along with the premise, it made me fat, I lost the weight. Taking credit for the good, blaming others for the bad.
Saying insulin allows you to get fat because your body absorbs the food you eat may be a better way of stating it. Cut the insulin and you don't absorb the food as well.
Well teens may get a good understanding if they think of it like a credit card that they are paying the bill. You spend a little too much (excess food intake) and you may be able to cover it. You spend a lot( lots of excess) and you go into debt ( health issues) sooner. Maybe that 1 extra donut a month may be covered by manipulating insulin, but the almost daily indulgences are too much and you are playing with your life.

Posted by meacebo on 27 January 2009

I applaud the illustration of the credit card. I think it helps people realize that there is a cost that is paid. Focus on the eating disorder is so important- many patients feel very ashamed to have the high blood sugars and really ill, yet feel that they could not control their weight any other way. I often find that when they can focus on the eating disorder in treatment- the carb counting and eating does come into line. They feel safe from themselves in ed treatment. It is not uncommon for the bulimic patient to lose weight in intensive ed treatment and that in and of itself offers hope.

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