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New care for eating disorder

A multidisciplinary team at King’s College London has been awarded £1.25 million by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to investigate and design interventions for an eating disorder where people with type 1 diabetes deliberately take too little insulin to try and control their weight.

diabetes sugar in bloodThe team is led by Dr Marietta Stadler from the School of Life Course Sciences, who was awarded one of only five NIHR Clinician Scientist Fellowships nationally in 2018.

A dangerous feature for patients in this group is missing insulin replacement doses deliberately to lose weight. This can trigger medical emergencies and accelerates diabetes-related damage to vital organs. It is also associated with substantially increased mortality compared to people with type 1 diabetes without an eating disorder.

Dr Stadler said:

Living with type 1 diabetes requires a demanding daily routine of regular blood-glucose testing, watching what you eat and self-injecting insulin.
Studies show that between 8% and 36% of people with type 1 diabetes suffer from some form of eating disorder, which could be as many as 144,000 adults in the UK.

Despite this, there are currently no evidence-based interventions to help manage the condition.

Dr Stadler and her colleagues aim to change this. STEADY (Safe management of people with Type 1 diabetes and Eating Disorder StudY) is a collaboration across King’s Health Partners including: the Department of Diabetes; the Diabetes, Psychiatry & Psychology Unit (King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience); the Diabetes Department at King’s College Hospital and the Eating Disorders Unit at the South London and Maudsley.

Over the next five years the team (including Professor Khalida IsmailProfessor Glenn RobertProfessor Janet Treasure and Dr David Hopkins) will bring together patients with type 1 diabetes and an eating disorder, doctors, nurses, psychologists and dietitians to design a programme based on patients’ lived experiences. Researchers expect this to include a mix of both diabetic and psychiatric care, with elements of education and psychotherapy.

We are bringing together clinical, research and educational expertise in diabetes from across our partnership to develop a world-class Institute of Diabetes, Obesity and Endocrinology.

Read more on the King’s College London website.