Experienced dietician wants to prevent eating disorders in young people with type 1 diabetes and disturbed eating
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Caroline Bruun Abild’s PhD project will provide important insight into the prevalence of disturbed eating and eating disorders in young people with type 1 diabetes and help to develop early detection and treatment tools.
Caroline Bruun Abild, who has just received DKK 1.1 million from the Danish Diabetes Academy (DDA) for her PhD project on ‘Disturbed eating behavior among children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes’, has taken a few solid initial steps ahead of her project.
For example, she is one of the prime movers behind a Steno Diabetes Center Aarhus (SDCA) project designed to prevent the development of eating disorders through an early, targeted screening and treatment programme for disturbed eating. The target group is children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes aged 11-18 in Central Denmark Region.
‘Children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes have an increased risk of developing eating disorders as compared with children and adolescents without diabetes. For this group, an eating disorder leads to worse diabetes regulation, a greater risk of late diabetic complications, and higher mortality. Several international studies show that children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes are at markedly higher risk of having so-called disturbed eating – weight-control behaviour that can develop into a real eating disorder’, explains Caroline Bruun Abild, the first dietician to receive financial support from the DDA.
The first signs of developing a clinical eating disorder
The overall aim of the PhD project is to validate a diabetes-specific questionnaire for early detection of disturbed eating and to learn about the extent and severity of disturbed eating and eating disorders among children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes. Caroline Bruun Abild will also examine triggering and maintenance factors for disturbed eating among children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes with a view to developing and improving both treatment and prevention for this young patient group.
‘Disturbed eating can be the first sign of developing a clinical eating disorder, so prevention through early detection ought to be prioritized. Both Danish and international guidelines recommend annual screening for mental illness, including eating disorders, but at present there are no diabetes clinics/outpatient centres, either in Denmark or abroad, that offer a systematic, coherent programme for children and adolescents with diabetes and disturbed eating’, says Caroline Bruun Abild, whose target group is drawn from throughout Central Denmark Region, and the regional hospitals in Randers, Herning, Viborg and Horsens are therefore involved on an equal footing with the SDCA.
Collaboration at home and abroad
Behind the project is a broad-based collaboration. Caroline Bruun Abild will make visits to Kings College London in the UK and to Oslo University Hospital in Norway, while on home turf she will be working in collaboration with the paediatric department at the SDCA and the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Unit at Aarhus University Hospital’s Department of Psychiatry and Odense University Hospital.
The principal supervisor of the PhD project is Research Director, Consultant and Clinical Associate Professor Esben Thyssen Vestergaard PhD. But several other authorities, such as Kurt Kristensen MD PhD, Associate Professor and Senior Researcher Loa Clausen PhD, and Professors René Klinkby Støving MD and Jens Meldgaard Bruun, are involved in this ambitious project.
By Pernille Fløjstrup Andersen, Communications Officer, Danish Diabetes Academy
Name and title: Clinical Dietician Caroline Bruun Abild MSc (Paediatric Psychology), b. 1979
Awarded DKK 1.1 million by the Danish Diabetes Academy.
Project title: Disturbed eating behavior among children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes (DEBAT) - An observational and explorative study of prevalence, psychosocial and clinical characteristics.
Research Centres: Steno Diabetes Center Aarhus, Oslo University Hospital, Norway, & Kings College London, UK.
Principal supervisor: Research Director, Consultant and Clinical Associate Professor Esben Thyssen Vestergaard PhD
Tel: +45 6170 6531
Danish Diabetes Academy
Tore Christiansen, Managing Director
Tel: +45 2964 6764