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Children and Teens Who Overeat More Likely to Start Using Marijuana


A new study finds children and teens who overeat are more likely to start using marijuana and other drugs, compared with their peers who don’t eat too much. The study is based on surveys of almost 17,000 youth, Reuters reports.

“Physicians and parents should be aware that both overeating and binge eating are quite common in adolescents, and these problems put them at risk for other problems, such as drug use,” lead researcher Kendrin Sonneville of Boston Children’s Hospital told Reuters. “The earlier we can screen for who is at risk, the more able we are to prevent the onset of drug use.”

Dr. Sonneville said pediatricians should talk to their patients about eating patterns. Parents who notice their child is eating much more than usual in one sitting should consult the child’s doctor, she advised.

The children in the study, who were between the ages of 9 and 15 when it began, filled out health questionnaires every year or two between 1996 and 2005. During that period, 41 percent started using marijuana, and 32 percent used other illicit drugs.Those who reported overeating were 2.7 times more likely to start using marijuana or other drugs. Binge eaters—those who lost control during overeating—were 1.9 times more likely to start using drugs.

The findings appear in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

2 Responses to this article

  1. Fred / December 11, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Or is it that smoking MJ is the cause of overeating, ie. “The Munchies.”

  2. Chudley Edward Werch, Phd / December 11, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    This study provides yet additional evidence of the interrelatedness of risk behaviors among adolescents. This study found that binge and over-eating is associated with increased risk for initiating marijuana and other drug use. These findings highlight the need for evidence-based multiple behavior interventions such as SPORT for adolescents and InShape for young adults. These types of interventions can be more cost effective than those targeting single risk behaviors.
    Chudley Werch, PhD

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