A new survey finds that youth who overeat are also more likely to start using drugs. Between 1996 and 2005, researchers surveyed close to 17,000 youth between the initial ages of nine and 15. In surveying youth on their eating habits, researchers found that 1 percent of boys and 3 percent of girls reported binge eating (defined as loss of control during overeating), and 3 percent of boys and 1 percent of girls reported overeating without losing control.
Over the course of the study, 41 percent of the youths began using marijuana and 32 percent used other drugs. Youth who reported overeating were 2.7 times more likely to start using drugs, and youth who reported binge eating were 1.9 times more likely to start using drugs. The study does not prove that binge eating causes drug use, but instead shows that a teen’s eating habits may be a warning sign of increased risk for drug use. Researchers have posited that drug use may be tied to lack of impulse control, but the survey’s findings complicate that thesis, since youth who overate without loss of control were more likely to use drugs.
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