Teenagers who diet, especially young women, are exposed to an increased risk of smoking and heavy drinking, as reported by a study that has been carried out by the scientists from the University of Waterloo, in Canada, published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health and cited by ScienceDaily.
“It may seem natural that there is a connection between dieting and behavior such as smoking and skipping meals, but the explanation is not as clear in the case of heavy drinking. Our findings suggest that dieting and other health risk behaviors may be associated with common underlying factors such as poor body image,” explained Amanda Raffoul, the leading author of the study.
Teenagers who diet are prone to smoking and heavy drinking, as well as to unhealthy dietary habits
Actually, according to the study, 70 percent of the 3,300 teenagers females that participated in the research admitted they followed several diets at some point in the last three years.
The scientists linked this behavior to the pressure coming from social networks and other sectors to maintain the “ideal body silhouette”.
In this regard, the study’s outcomes have revealed that teenagers who diet are 1.6 times more exposed to skipping breakfast, the most important meal of the day, and smoking. On the other hand, about 1.5 times of dieting teens are more exposed to smoking and heavy drinking.
Understanding health-related factors and social influencing can help
“This study points to the importance of considering health-related factors, including behaviors and the variety of influences on them, in combination. Only by understanding the complex ways in which these factors interact we can make effective interventions and predict and monitor the unintended effects of such interventions,” explained Sharon Kirkpatrick, one of the study’s co-authors.
In short, understanding how health-related factors, dietary habits, and social influencing, as a whole, influence teenagers who diet to adopt unhealthy behaviors might help.