Developing a theoretical maintenance model for disordered eating in Type 1 diabetes

J. Treasure, C. Kan*, L. Stephenson, E. Warren, E. Smith, S. Heller, K. Ismail

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)



According to the literature, eating disorders are an increasing problem for more than a quarter of people with Type 1 diabetes and they are associated with accentuated diabetic complications. The clinical outcomes in this group when given standard eating disorder treatments are disappointing. The Medical Research Council guidelines for developing complex interventions suggest that the first step is to develop a theoretical model.


To review existing literature to build a theoretical maintenance model for disordered eating in people with Type 1 diabetes.


The literature in diabetes relating to models of eating disorder (Fairburn's transdiagnostic model and the dual pathway model) and food addiction was examined and assimilated.


The elements common to all eating disorder models include weight/shape concern and problems with mood regulation. The predisposing traits of perfectionism, low self-esteem and low body esteem and the interpersonal difficulties from the transdiagnostic model are also relevant to diabetes. The differences include the use of insulin mismanagement to compensate for breaking eating rules and the consequential wide variations in plasma glucose that may predispose to ‘food addiction’. Eating disorder symptoms elicit emotionally driven reactions and behaviours from others close to the individual affected and these are accentuated in the context of diabetes.


The next stage is to test the assumptions within the maintenance model with experimental medicine studies to facilitate the development of new technologies aimed at increasing inhibitory processes and moderating environmental triggers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1541–1545
Number of pages5
JournalDiabetic Medicine
Issue number12
Early online date16 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


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