Sarah Westen, Ph.D., a post-doctoral fellow at the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions, introduced audiences to an unfamiliar term: diabulimia. The word refers to the practice of those living with Type 1 diabetes restricting their insulin intake to lose or maintain weight.
“Type 1 diabetes is a mind disease as much as it is a body disease,” she said. “Studies have found feelings of guilt, shame, blame, embarrassment and isolation can result from diabetes stigma.”
Laura Guyer, Ph.D., professor at the UF Center for Gender, Sexualities and Women’s Studies Research, ended the evening with a review of her research into diabetes patients who miss their medical appointments. She found that most frequently, women older than 50 with public health insurance do not attend their scheduled appointments. She explained that low literacy and health literacy rates, transportation and health insurance are all barriers to adherence to a treatment schedule.
“We need to understand why different groups of patients fit into the no-show group, because it comes at a cost to everyone involved,” she said. “No one wins with a no-show.”
Mark Atkinson, M.D., director of the UF Diabetes Institute, said Tuesday’s program represents an important start to the institute’s commitment to addressing women’s issues in diabetes.
“Diabetes presents challenges for researchers, family members, caregivers and patients alike,” he said. “We are confident that individuals at UF can generate positive change.”