Brown’s bill to study diabetes-related eating disorder wins unanimous support from House

Today the state House of Representatives voted unanimously to approve Sen. Sharon Brown’s bill to study diabulimia – an eating disorder that leads a person with diabetes to deliberately restrict insulin intake to lose weight, risking serious injury or death. Once enacted, Brown’s measure will officially be known as Alyssa’s Law, after a young woman who died from diabulimia and is the inspiration for Brown’s legislation.

“I am very pleased to see this bill pass with the unanimous support of the House,” said Brown, R-Kennewick. “It’s not an issue many of my colleagues in the Legislature were aware of, but that’s sort of the point.

“Hopefully this new law will help raise awareness among those in the public and even within the medical field who have never heard of diabulimia. That increased awareness is vital to saving lives and preventing this potentially lethal condition, which has a disproportionate impact on young women struggling with body image.”

Under Senate Bill 6663, the state Department of Health is tasked with providing a report on dual diagnoses of eating disorder and diabetes.

The practice of manipulating insulin intake 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 measure now goes to the governor for his consideration.