Researchers Uncover Link Between Abnormal Weight And Illegal Drug Use In Teens

Italian researchers have determined that there is an association between illegal drug use, and abnormal weight in teenagers.

More than 33,000 Italian high school students between the ages of 15 to 19 were surveyed in this research study which is published in the online journal PLoS one. The researchers established that young people who are underweight or overweight are susceptible to consuming 20 to 40 percent more illegal drugs than their peers of normal weight. This is especially noticeable among female teens.

The researchers note that the relationship between abnormal weight and illegal drug use is not based upon a cause and effect relationship. However, the association does point to underlying social factors common to eating disorders and drug use.

The study which was led by members of the Italian National Research Council concludes that multiple psychosocial factors including challenges with family and peer relations can lead to a susceptibility to both drug use and abnormal weight.

The researchers listed a number of different social issues which can impact young people and affect their likelihood of taking illegal drugs. For example, overweight teens who reported having self-esteem issues, challenges with school, relationships with friends who abused drugs, or severe problems with their parents and families were at greatest risk of taking drugs themselves, compared to overweight youth who did not use drugs. Many of the factors which affected the probability of the young people taking drugs were common to the social stressors that can place a person at risk for developing an eating disorder.

The researchers conclude that the association between drug use and being underweight or overweight highlights the importance of treatment models which can address the psychosocial needs of adolescents struggling with eating disorders and/or drug abuse.

Source: PLoS one

Eating Disorder Self Test. Take the EAT-26 self test to see if you might have eating disorder symptoms that might require professional evaluation. All answers are confidential.

Find a Treatment Facility Near You

Click on a state below to find eating disorder treatment options that could be right for you.

The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes and we encourage all visitors to see a licensed physician if they believe that they have an eating disorder. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information.

Copyright © 2008-2017
Company Information

© 2017 All rights reserved. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of's terms of service and privacy policy. The material on this site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.