Washington: Obese adolescent girls have more than twice the risk for high-level nicotine addiction in young adulthood, according to a new study.
Smoking is just one of the problematic behaviors that appeal to some teens, along with delinquency, drug use, alcohol use and early or unprotected sexual activity.
Some of the risk factors that could lead teens to engage in these behaviors include low self-esteem, depression and poor academic performance. Obese teenage girls in the study were more likely to report each of these risk factors.
“As we address the issue of obesity, it is important to prevent poor medical outcomes, but we must also recognize the risk for these psychosocial outcomes and support and counsel teens appropriately,” said lead author Aliya Esmail Hussaini, M.D., of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation in Austin, Texas.
The authors analyzed data from a group of more than 4,000 U.S. adolescent girls who responded to three waves of surveys over a six-year period. The findings regarding obesity and nicotine addiction held true regardless of socioeconomic status, age, race, parental smoking and many other factors.
It is also important to point out that obesity might not be a stand-alone risk factor for heavy smoking, Jessor said. Instead, similar psychosocial risk factors might lead to a “syndrome” of problem behaviors that includes both obesity and heavy smoking.
The study has been published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health.