Brown diabulimia bill one step closer to passage after clearing key budget committee

Today the Senate Ways and Means Committee voted unanimously to advance Sen. Sharon Brown’s bill to have the state study the link between eating disorders and diabetes.

Senate Bill 6663, which cleared the committee on the last day for bills to be approved by the Senate’s fiscal committees, would direct the Department of Health to provide a report on dual diagnoses of eating disorder and diabetes. According to the National Institutes of Health, patients with type 1 diabetes carry a high risk of developing eating disorders due to restricted diets and a focus on weight control.

“I very pleased to see the response of my colleagues to this important bill,” said Brown, R-Kennewick. “There continues to be broad bipartisan support for raising awareness of this issue, which has a disproportionate impact on young women struggling with body image.

“Diabulimia is a life-threatening condition, and ignorance of it among lawmakers, the medical community and the public is one of the contributing factors to its deadliness. This bill is about tackling that ignorance head-on and doing everything possible to save lives.”

Diabulimia refers to an eating disorder in a person with diabetes, typically type 1 diabetes, wherein the person purposefully restricts insulin in order to lose weight. The practice has been reported in 11 to 15 percent of adolescents, and 30 to 39 percent of adults living with diabetes. It can lead to early onset of serious diabetes complications such as blindness, amputations, or death.

Under Brown’s bill, the Department of Health would be required to provide a report to the Legislature by December 1 that addresses:

  • the prevalence of eating disorders among individuals in Washington living with diabetes;
  • the risks for people with diabetes associated with eating disorders;
  • insulin usage and omission habits among the affected population;
  • available screening tools for providers; and,
  • available treatment options.

The bill now heads to the Senate Rules Committee, the final stop before the measure can be pulled to the floor for a vote of the full Senate.

If approved, the measure will be known as Alyssa’s Law, after 8th Legislative District constituent Alyssa Marshall, who died from diabulimia shortly after her high school graduation in 2019.