Trying to understand weight issues – by Helen May


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I am incredibly lucky: I am lucky that I enjoy exercise; I am lucky that I like fresh fruit and vegetables; and I am lucky that my parents are slim. This means that I have never had to worry about being overweight. The latest results I found about average BMI, shows that I am definitely in the minority in this country: in 2013, the average BMI was 27.

Weight issues are complex. There are the obvious health issues but I believe most people are also concerned about image. I understand this to a certain extent: although I am slim, I still want to  keep my “muffin tops” at bay and this is one of the reasons I go to the gym. However, I think I have the opposite of an addictive personality: I get bored doing the same think all the time: so I am unlikely to push my abdominal exercises to the level of a six-pack let alone exercising to the point of damaging my body.

I have multiple friends and colleagues who have been on diets and taken up exercise is order to lose weight. However, I was shocked to read that “40 percent of diabetic women between the ages 15 and 40 have at some point tried to modify their insulin doses to regulate their weight.” I worry about what has led these women do this. Is the pressure from the media to be slim too strong? Do they think they are taking the easy option where they can continue to eat as much as they want? Are they ignorant of the impact of high blood sugars? Or are future complications a problem for another day that can be ignored? I suspect it is a combination of all of these points.

Whilst there has been plenty in the media about body image and eating disorders, there seems very little in diabetes forums and sites about withholding insulin to lose weight. With a statistic as worrying as the one I quoted above, should the diabetes community be addressing it. If so how? I searched for weight loss on the Diabetes UK website and all the results were related to the positives of weight loss, especially related to Type 2 diabetes. Search for “not injecting insulin to lose weight” and you get stories from the Daily Mail. But very little to help people at risk.

Maybe there is a concern that by bringing this issue to the fore would be making more people with diabetes aware that this is an option to lose weight. But this sounds like hiding from the problem.

Maybe the figure 40% is an exaggeration. However, I have met women who have done this and I have not spoken about diabetes to many people so it is definitely a problem that needs to be faced rather than ignored: body image continues to be important and looking as good as models and actors is not easy. So some people will take what they see as an “easy option” and we need to make them aware of the impact of this choice.

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