Young New Zealand diabetics missing insulin shots in dangerous bid to lose weight

A third of young people with type one diabetes are purposely not taking insulin, or are at risk of avoiding insulin, in order to lose weight.

The disorder - termed diabulimia - is not a recognised eating disorder, but health professionals are warning it is a major issue that needs to be addressed.

Pediatric endocrinologist Paul Hofman lead the study looking at 300 diabetic adolescents in Auckland and Waikato, aged between 12 and 25.

Of those categorised as "high risk", 75 per cent were female.

He said the disorder is a major issue which affects around a third of this population.

"It is something that we're not identifying and it's something that is relatively straight-forward to manage but we currently have nothing in place to offer for this group."

Mr Hofman said Māori and Pacifica adolescents were at a higher risk than European and Pākehā youth.

"There was a really major ethnicity issue. So the odds of having an eating disorder for Māori was about twice as much and Pacific Islander about five times as much.

"I certainly didn't expect that."

He said the study proved what experts thought was probably happening in New Zealand, but up until now, had no data on.

"You could argue there's maybe a little bit of 'head in the sand - we don't really want to know because we can't do very much', but I think we've gone past that and we've now got clear evidence that this is a substantial problem and that we actually need to start looking at finding the resource to treat it."

He said while the study was relatively small, he was confident it was a fair representation of what was happening around the country.

"What was interesting is there was no age effect, so it didn't matter if you were a 12-year-old or a 25-year-old your risk was the same, so arguably we could go down to ten or eight years old and we'd still see it."

"I think we could do a broader study but it's not really going to change what we know."

Also involved in the study was eating disorders expert Roger Mysliwiec who said the effects of omitting insulin were severe.

"This behaviour leads to high acute risk as well as long-term risks, including cardiovascular complications, possible blindness and kidney failure."

He said it was potentially fatal.

"I would say that is definitely a possibility, we have seen people with very severe complications, but we don't know statistics about that because people can die of severe hyperglycemia or other complications that are related to the diabetes, so the eating disorder wouldn't necessarily be given as cause of death."

Dr Mysliwiec said early intervention was the best way to help stem the issue.

"If we look at it in terms of health costs, of someone with long-term diabetes who starts suffering from severe physical complications, which has other implications in terms of their capacity to work and risk of developing depression and so forth.

"If we look at the bigger picture, early intervention is so much more effective and cost-effective."

Lisa Ingle, the founder of Diabetes and Eating Disorders Awareness (DEDA), said she was hopeful the study would bring greater awareness of the issue, and encourage health groups to collaborate and come up with solutions.

"I think we've really just hit the tip of the iceberg in some ways and we have shown that this a problem in New Zealand and this is something that's affecting people with type one diabetes.

"I think the number one thing that needs to happen is collaborating between the eating disorder and diabetes services."

She said DEDA was a place people could come to for support and information.

"Our main message is hope."


Free laundry service for Auckland's homeless planned for city's streets

Auckland’s homeless will be offered a free mobile laundry service provided by an Australian charity.

Orange Sky Australia had established a New Zealand arm of the charity and will visit Auckland next week to secure funding to get the van service up and running.

The charity was launched in 2014 and now has 27 laundry and shower vans in Australia operated with the assistance of over 1200 volunteers.

"Since Orange Sky Australia kicked off three and a half years ago, our volunteers in bright orange vans have helped connect people all over Australia. These people are often marginalised or ignored by much of the community," Orange Sky Australia CEO Jo Westh said in a statement.

"It's a simple service based on something most of us take for granted - clean clothes and conversation."

Ms Westh said it was clear there was a need for the service with the 2013 census showing 20,000 Aucklanders were homeless.

The CEO of Orange Sky Australia says the most important part of the service was people connecting through genuine and non-judgemental conversation. Source: Supplied


Person taken to hospital after fire at scrap metal yard in Lower Hutt

One person has been taken to hospital with smoke inhalation after a fire at a scrap metal yard in Lower Hutt today.

The fire at the scrap yard has caused a street to be closed and nearby businesses to be evacuated in Lower Hutt. Source: 1 NEWS

Fire fighters atop aerial ladders have controlled the blaze at the Petone scrap business though smoke continues to billow from the site.

The fire is deep seated and could take the rest of the day to completely extinguish.  

I NEWS footage shot from a high angle shows crews dousing the blaze.

Parkside Road will remain closed for another couple of hours with nearby businesses also evacuated as a precaution, police say.

Star Olsen from nearby Kokiri Marae Keiana Olsen Trust says the marae has taken steps to close today to make sure children are kept at home.

He said the smoke at the marae was very thick but easing with police telling him it was not toxic. 

The fire started before 6.45am in a machine cutting fridges before spreading to insulation materials, a Fire and Emergency spokesperson told 1 NEWS.

Police are warning motorists to avoid Seaview Road with significant delays in the area.

There have been no reports of injuries.