Objective: To examine gender differences in disordered eating behaviors (DEB) and body dissatisfaction in adolescents with type 1 diabetes. While evidence shows that female youth with type 1 diabetes are more prone to DEB compared to their peers without diabetes, little is known about male adolescents.
Method: In a national online survey, adolescents (13–19 years) with type 1 diabetes for ≥1 year completed the Diabetes Eating Problem Survey-Revised (DEPS-R), and the Body Mass Index Silhouette Matching Test (BMI-SMT) and items on binge eating and insulin omission.
Results: About 477 adolescents (mean age 16 years; 62% females) completed the DEPS-R and 431 the BMI-SMT. The DEPS-R total score was higher for females than males, with scores for females increasing with age. BMI, HbA1c, insulin omission, and binge-eating frequency were associated moderately with DEPS-R for both genders. On the BMI-SMT, 88% of females wanted to be thinner. Of the males, 76% reported body dissatisfaction; however, only 43% expressed a desire for thinness with the remainder desiring a larger body size. DEPS-R was positively associated with the discrepancy between perceived actual and ideal body size for both genders.
Discussion: A large proportion of adolescents with type 1 diabetes, particularly females reported engaging in DEB. Similarly, high rates of body dissatisfaction were reported, though ideal body shape preferences differed by gender. Given the high levels of self-reported DEB and gender-based patterns of body dissatisfaction, future research needs to examine the effectiveness of routine screening of DEB and consider implementation of stepped care approaches.