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Question:

From Staten Island, New York, USA:

My 17 year old niece has diabetes. I'm not sure which type specifically. He parents just refer to it as juvenile diabetes. It is apparently a very severe form. She was diagnosed at about age 10, to my knowledge. Until about 2 years, despite the diabetes, she was normal, energetic, budding young woman. Recently, however, she's become very frail, almost fragile. Her weight and posture are suffering greatly.

My question is basically this: If a proper diet and medication regimen are strictly enforced, is a dramatic weight loss 25-30 pounds a common diabetic symptom?

Many of us are actually concerned that she may have an eating disorder which is affecting her ongoing battle with diabetes. She simply looks anorexic. Her immediate family insists that the weight loss is purely diabetes related. Since the onset of her weight loss, she has many complaints: sore muscles, sore back and headaches. Needless to say, we've become increasingly concerned.

Answer:

If she was diagnosed at ten years of age and has had a recent loss of that much weight, I would strongly suspect an eating disorder. Some teens use their diabetes to lose weight on purpose. This is particularly true of females. Is your relative seeing a counselor on her diabetes team? If not, I would urge that she have a consult.

CMB

Additional comments from Dr. Lebinger:

I would also make sure her thyroid function has been tested. An overactive thyroid can cause both severe weight loss and behavior disturbances.

TGL

Original posting 26 Oct 1998
Posted to Behavior and Thyroid

  
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:02
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