Teenage girls who start dieting are nearly twice as likely to also take up smoking regularly, compared with teenage girls who are not dieting.
Among teenage boys, it is the inactive dieters - those that tried dieting but didn't stick to it - who are at risk for taking up smoking.
These are the findings of Dr Mildred M. Maldonado-Molina of the University of Florida, Gainesville, and colleagues who analysed associations between dieting and smoking.
Their aim was to see if the desire to lose weight might play a role in the decision to start smoking.
How the study was done
The investigators used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a school-based study of health-related behaviours among girls and boys in grades seven through 12 in the US.
Data collected from 1994 to 1996 in nearly 7 800 teenagers showed that 55 percent of the girls were dieters, and of these, about 35 percent were consistent dieters. Yet less than 21 percent of the girls were considered overweight.
By contrast, more boys were overweight but only about a quarter was dieters, and just 12 percent were consistent dieters, the researchers report in the American Journal of Health Promotion.
Teen girls more at risk
Teen girls who began dieting during the study period were roughly 1.9 times more likely than non-dieters to begin smoking regularly, the investigators note.
Among boys, those who began but stopped dieting were 1.7 times more likely to initiate regular smoking compared with non-dieters.
Furthermore, in both girls and boys, those with cigarettes available in the home (nearly 27 percent overall) were at increased risk for initiating regular smoking, the investigators report.
Overall, dieting does not appear associated with trying smoking, the researchers observe, but female teenagers who initiate dieting appear at risk for beginning regular smoking. – (Reuters Health)
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