Dr Ann Goebel-Fabbri Discusses Prevalence of Eating Disorders Among Those With T1D

Ann Goebel-Fabbri, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Boston, Massachusettes, outlines trends in eating disorders among patients with type 1 diabetes.

Women with type 1 diabetes (T1D) are 2.5 times more likely to develop an eating disorder than their same-age peers, said Ann Goebel-Fabbri, PhD, a clinical psychologist practicing in Boston, Massachusettes. Goebel-Fabbri's talk, "Practical Approaches for Eating Disorders in Diabetes," was presented at this year's American Diabetes Association 81st Scientific Sessions.


Can you introduce yourself and describe your work?

My name is Ann Goebel-Fabbri, PhD, and I'm a psychologist here in the Boston area. I worked at Joslin Diabetes Center as a clinical psychologist for about 16 years before going out into private practice, which I've been doing for about 5 or 6 years at this point. Many of my patients are people with diabetes, both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.

What is the prevalence of eating disorders among those with diabetes? Are there any age- or gender-specific trends?

In terms of gender, the majority of research on eating disorders tends to focus on women. But what we're starting to see is that for certain eating disorders, namely binge eating disorder, there seems to be an equal prevalence among men and women. It's not really clear if maybe anorexia and bulimia are underreported in men or if they truly just do happen at lower prevalence rates. We're not quite sure.

But once you add diabetes to the mix, type 1 diabetes, for example, increases the risk of a woman having an eating disorder by about 2.5 times. So women with type 1 are about 2.5 times more likely to develop an eating disorder of any kind than their same-age peers. It seems from the literature as though they tend to get diagnosed a little bit later than we typically think of in terms of eating disorder trends. Typically, the sort of average stereotype is of an adolescent girl with an eating disorder, and in type 1 diabetes, the early 20s seems to be when women are more likely to be diagnosed.

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