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

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