Emanuala Araia has won the ‘Diabulimia Helpline 2018 Innovation Award’

ACBRD doctoral student, Emanuala, reports on the 1st International Conference on Diabetes and Eating Disorders (New Orleans, Nov 2018)

by Emanuala Araia


The 1st International Diabetes and Eating Disorders conference was held in New Orleans, Louisiana (9-11 Nov 2018) – it was a huge success. Hosted by the Diabulimia Helpline, this conference celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the organisation’s first online support groups and was the result of eight years focusing on advocacy, awareness and providing education to healthcare professionals.

The conference featured tracks for healthcare professionals and people with diabetes, bringing together researchers, clinicians and individuals with lived experience to discuss, learn, network, open up collaboration opportunities and advance the area, while carefully considering the unique challenges for the individuals affected by both conditions. Importantly, it offered ‘a unique opportunity to come together in a warm, supportive environment to learn and talk with peers and experts about the things no one else understands’.

The main areas discussed including: key insights learnt; the difficulties associated with screening and treatment; case studies; the development of new treatment interventions using an Acceptance and Commitment Therapeutic framework; gender differences in disordered eating; and future projects involving large national registries, aimed at increasing understanding of these issues.

Whilst the seriousness of having both diabetes and an eating disorder cannot be understated, the conference instilled hope. Diabulimia Helpline Founder and conference director, Erin M. Akers discussed her vision of prevention prevailing and hopefully removing the need to have future conferences when these issues cease to exist.

My doctoral research was supervised by A/Prof Ross King (Deakin University), and the ACBRD’s Dr Christel Hendrieckx and Prof Jane Speight. I was fortunate to be invited to present two of my research studies. The first (given as an oral presentation) focused on gender differences and the prevalence of disordered eating behaviours and body dissatisfaction in youth with type 1 diabetes, and featured findings from the Diabetes MILES Youth – Australia Study. The second (presented as a poster) focused on ‘Twitter conversations’ and the online discourse about eating problems and diabetes more generally. For this study, I was honoured to be the recipient of the ‘Diabulimia Helpline 2018 Innovation Award’ in recognition of the contribution of my research, including the focus on males and exploration of social media.

The conference was both practical and informative and the next conference, which I highly recommend, is scheduled for San Diego in 2019.

You can read more about the news and views from the conference on Twitter: #DBHcon18

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