Bournemouth University: BU expert gives evidence to new Parliamentary inquiry into type 1 diabetes and eating disorders

A BU expert has given evidence as a part of a Parliamentary inquiry into type 1 diabetes and disordered eating (T1DE).

Ariella Thompson was invited to give evidence about her lived experience of T1DE. Ella’s lived experience with T1DE has led to her studying a PhD in the subject and creating a podcast, in hopes of helping people with T1DE.

Approximately 400,000 people in the UK live with the autoimmune condition type 1 diabetes. Of those people, studies show that between 8% and 36% also experience some form of eating disorder, as many as 144,000 people in the UK.

Sir George Howarth MP and Rt. Hon Theresa May MP have launched a new inquiry into eating disorders in type 1 diabetes. Several evidence sessions will take place throughout the summer, with the eventual aim to set out ambitious recommendations to ensure the NHS and healthcare system is better equipped to tackle the complexities of living with type 1 diabetes and an eating disorder.

Ella Thompson said, “As someone living with type 1 diabetes, who has struggled with disordered eating, and who also researches and advocates in this area, I’m intimately aware of how difficult living with T1DE can be.

“My aim in talking about my experiences has always been to help other people who might be struggling. I’m pleased to provide evidence to this inquiry which provides an important opportunity to increase understanding of a complicated and life-threatening condition at the highest levels.

“Ultimately, I hope this inquiry can lead to improved outcomes for the people with T1DE who need it most.”

Former UK Prime Minister Theresa May, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2012, said: ‘Living with diabetes doesn’t change what you can do but it does take some adjusting to. For those with T1DE, it must be particularly challenging which is why we need to raise awareness of the issue; better understand the causes and help identify all those who might be struggling with this very difficult and upsetting condition.’

Ella was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2016, and worked quickly to understand the condition, how it would impact her life, and where food fits in. Ella explains how she began talking about her experiences, “A few years into having diabetes, the Bournemouth Diabetes team received NHS funding to trial a treatment pathway for people with T1DE – combining the expertise of the diabetes team and the local eating disorder team, sharing learning and treating patients together. Around the same time, I had raised some concerns around type 1 diabetes and disordered eating. As a result of this I was asked to help with the project on a voluntary basis to provide both some communication expertise but also my lived experience. Eventually, that led into my PhD research, and the awareness raising work I have done with my podcast, JDRF and Diabetes UK.”