Almost one-fourth of patients with insulin-dependent diabetes aged 16 years and older experience an eating disorder, a study has revealed.

Type-1 diabetes is the type of diabetes commonly known as insulin-dependent, as the autoimmune disorder attacks the body's insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Patients with type 2 diabetes may also need insulin as they may have insulin resistance, a condition in which the body does not respond as it should to the insulin produced by the pancreas.

Researchers of the latest study found that 24% of insulin-dependent diabetic patients, both type 1 and type 2, may experience typical eating disorders, including binge eating and food restriction. The results published in the journal Eating Behaviors also showed that 21% of insulin-dependent adults suffer from a unique form of eating disorder called insulin omission, where patients intentionally restrict or skip insulin doses due to fears of weight gain.

"The conclusion that 21 % of adults with insulin-dependent diabetes omit insulin is concerning, as earlier research has shown that insulin omission leads more often to complications like retinopathy and nephropathy than other weight control behaviors," the researchers wrote.

"Intentional skipping or restriction of insulin doses will lead to weight loss, but this also maintains high blood glucose, throwing the management of diabetes off balance," a study author, Pia Niemelä from the University of Eastern Finland, said in a news release.

The team conducted a meta-analysis of 45 previous studies with data from 11,592 individuals who had insulin-dependent diabetes. The analysis showed that 2,521 of them had eating disorder symptoms.

As per the findings, the prevalence of eating disorders is more common in women than in men, which is consistent with earlier studies. Regarding age, eating disorder symptoms were seen in all age groups, so age is not a significant factor.

"Eating disorder symptoms are often thought to affect adolescents and young adults. However, our meta-analysis shows that adults, too, suffer from eating disorder symptoms, which is why it is important to learn to identify patients with eating disorders," Niemelä said.

Researchers caution that the concurrent occurrence of eating disorders and type 1 diabetes is risky as it raises the chances of diabetes complications, hospitalizations, and even the risk of death when compared with patients with type 1 diabetes but without an eating disorder.