Youth who overeat more likely to take up drugs: study

Tue Dec 11, 2012 9:01am IST

Carolyn Dawson, bariatric surgery patient walks by a copy of ''health2you'' magazine with a cover story on how to overcome overeating at the Rose Medical Center in Denver for her pre-op appointment five days before her procedure August 25, 2010. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/Files

Carolyn Dawson, bariatric surgery patient walks by a copy of ''health2you'' magazine with a cover story on how to overcome overeating at the Rose Medical Center in Denver for her pre-op appointment five days before her procedure August 25, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Rick Wilking/Files

Related Topics

REUTERS - Children and teens who reported overeating, including binge eating, were more likely to start using marijuana and other drugs, according to a U.S. study looking at over 10,000 youths.

Binge eating, defined by loss of control during overeating, was also tied to a higher chance of depression and becoming overweight or obese, researchers writing in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine said.

"Physicians and parents should be aware that both overeating and binge eating are quite common in adolescents, and these problems put them at risk for other problems, such as drug use," said lead author Kendrin Sonneville, from Boston Children's Hospital.

"The earlier we can screen for who is at risk, the more able we are to prevent the onset of drug use."

This type of study does not prove that one behavior causes another, but rather that one can be a warning sign of increased risk for the other.

Sonneville's team used data from a large study of 16,882 children and teens, initially between age nine and 15, who filled out health-related questionnaires every year or two between 1996 and 2005.

At any point during that time, up to one percent of boys and up to three percent of girls said they binged regularly. Those rates were reversed - about three percent of boys and one percent of girls - among children who overate without loss of control.

During the study period, 41 percent of youths started using marijuana and 32 percent used other illicit drugs. Children and teens who had reported overeating on surveys were 2.7 times more likely to start using marijuana or other drugs, and binge eaters were 1.9 times more likely to take up drugs.

Researchers have thought teens who lose control while eating might also be at risk for other impulsive behaviors, such as drug use, Sonneville said. But her findings showed that any kids who overate - whether they reported losing control or not - were more likely to start experimenting with drugs.

It's not yet clear why that might be the case.

Overeating without loss of control wasn't tied to obesity, so it's important to know that eating too much can be a problem for reasons other than weight, Sonneville said, and that extra weight isn't the only sign of worrisome eating.

She said doctors should ask children and teens about their eating patterns, and parents who notice their children eating much more than usual in a sitting should go to their health care provider. Treatment from a dietician or therapist could help head off future problems, she added.

"It may be easy to overlook eating problems in normal-weight or healthy-weight kids," she said. "We need to think about eating habits even before they maybe affect a kid's weight, but realize these may be a risk factor for other problems down the road." SOURCE: bit.ly/KEGTVv

(Reporting from New York by Genevra Pittman at Reuters Health; editing by Elaine Lies)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

GAZA VIOLENCE

WORLD SHOWCASE

Gaining Ground

Gaining Ground

Ukraine claims more territory as fight intensifies with rebels.  Full Article 

Unifying CalL

Unifying Call

After Iraqi army crumbles, Maliki turns to state TV for help.  Full Article 

No Counter Action

No Counter Action

Lavrov says Russia will not respond in kind to Western sanctions.  Full Article 

Virus Outbreak

Virus Outbreak

Nigeria isolates Lagos hospital where Ebola victim died.  Full Article 

Ferry Disaster

Ferry Disaster

Associate of dead S.Korea ferry boss arrested, children due to give evidence.  Full Article 

Chinese in Iraq

Chinese in Iraq

China says may have citizens fighting in Iraq.  Full Article 

Asylum Seekers

Asylum Seekers

Sri Lankan Asylum Seekers arrive in Australia after weeks held at sea  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage