Weight-wary teen girls likely to smoke: study
Teenage girls who diet are four times more likely to smoke than those who do not diet, according to a new study.
Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that smoking is one of the most popular weight-control strategies among adolescents.
And the dieting itself may create a craving for nicotine, leading to a vicious circle of weight loss and increased tobacco consumption, according to research published in the American Journal of Public Health.
Bryn Austin of the division of adolescent medicine at Boston Children's Hospital followed almost 1,300 junior-high-school students over a two-year period.
The study found that 22 per cent of girls and 17 per cent of boys in early adolescence had dieted in the month before the survey. Seven per cent of girls and 6 per cent of boys were on diets more than once a week.
At the outset of the research, when the students were entering Grade 6, 3 per cent of them smoked. By the end of Grade 7, the rate jumped to 12 per cent.
But among girls who dieted frequently, the smoking rate jumped to 26 per cent from 6 per cent. Among boys who dieted frequently, it went to 12 per cent from zero.
By contrast, among adolescents who never dieted, the smoking rate went to 10 per cent from 2.4 per cent over two years.