New pilot to provide integrated care for diabetes patients with eating disorders

King’s Health Partners has been awarded £295,000 by NHS England to deliver a 15-month pilot service for people with type 1 diabetes and disordered eating, which is sometimes called Diabulimia.

multi pep diabetes trial_BRCDiabulimia is a condition where people with Type 1 Diabetes restrict their insulin intake to lose weight and this can lead to serious complications including blindness and amputations. It is most common in young people aged between ages 15 and 30.

Diabulimia is not yet formally recognised as a medical or psychiatric disorder, but the term is increasing in use in both academic literature and on social media. Two in five women and one in ten men with Type 1 diabetes are thought to omit some of their insulin as a means to control their weight.

The pilot aims to demonstrate the effectiveness of an integrated diabetes and mental health model for an initial cohort of 40 patients who present with severe symptoms. The service will bring together professionals across diabetes and mental health, including a diabetologist, liaison psychiatrist, diabetes specialist nurse, psychotherapist and pathway coordinator. 

This intensive approach is designed to improve outcomes for patients, for example healthier blood glucose levels, a reduction in unplanned hospital admissions, a reduction in diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) episodes and improvements in psychological functioning.

Professor Khalida Ismail, Co-Director of the King’s Health Partners Institute of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Obesity and Professor of Psychiatry & Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neurosciences, King’s College London, said:  

We are looking forward to being the vanguards of integrating diabetes care with mental health care. This is a game changer in the delivery of diabetes care in London, nationally and globally. NHS England has seen the devastating impact of mental health on diabetes outcomes and the need for more integrated diabetes and psychiatry care. By working collaboratively across the four Academic Health Sciences Centres we will be at the forefront of new ways of bringing mental and physical health together. We will be supporting the most vulnerable and high-risk groups of people with type 1 diabetes and disordered eating.

The team running the new pilot service is currently working with diabetes and mental health colleagues across London to agree appropriate referral pathways.

King’s Health Partners is bringing together clinical, research and educational expertise in diabetes from across our partnership to develop a world-class Institute of Diabetes, Obesity and Endocrinology