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Pathological eating behaviours and risk of retinopathy in diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis



Diabetes mellitus can cause several long-term macrovascular and microvascular complications including nephropathy, neuropathy, and retinopathy (DR). Several studies have reported positive associations between eating pathologies and DR; however, these studies have not been aggregated and sub-grouped into type of pathological eating behaviour, and the differences in risk according to type of eating behaviour is unknown. The aim of this review, therefore, was to aggregate risks of DR in populations with and without pathological eating behaviours, stratified according to eating behaviour.


A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted. Major databases and grey literature were search from inception until 1/6/2021. Studies reporting the prevalence of pathological eating behaviours (against a control group with no pathological eating behaviours) in diabetic people with and without DR were included. Odds ratios were calculated from primary data.


Seven studies with eight independent outcomes with a total of 1162 participants were included. The odds ratio of DR in the total pooled analysis was 2.94 (95%CI 1.86–4.64; p = <0.001; I2 = 29.59). Two types of eating behaviour yielded enough data for sub-group analysis. Eating disorder not otherwise specified yielded an odds ratio of 2.73 (95%CI 1.81–4.10; p = <0.001; I2 = 0.00), and binge eating disorder yielded an non-significant odds ratio of 0.92 (95%CI 0.31–2.77; p = 0.887;I2 = 0.00).


The likelihood of DR increases almost three times in the presence of pathological eating behaviours. More studies are required to confirm this in clinical populations stratified by eating disorder. Practitioners working with people with diabetes should closely monitor eating behaviours to preclude this risk.

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Data availability

All data from this study are available from pre-published papers.


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Correspondence to Mike Trott.

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Trott, M., Driscoll, R., Iraldo, E. et al. Pathological eating behaviours and risk of retinopathy in diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Diabetes Metab Disord 21, 1047–1054 (2022).

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  • Diabetes
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Eating disorder
  • Disordered eating