Relationship Between Current Substance Use and Unhealthy Weight Loss Practices Among Adolescents

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14 Scopus citations


Objectives To determine the relationship between current substance use and unhealthy weight loss practices (UWLP) among 12-to-18 year olds. Methods Participants were 12-to-18 year olds who completed the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey in Florida (N = 5620). Current alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use was self-reported based on last 30-day use. UWLP was defined based on self-report of at least one of three methods to lose weight in last 30-days: (1) ≥24 h of fasting, (2) diet pill use, and (3) laxative use/purging. The reference group included those with no reported UWLP. Logistic regression models adjusted for age, gender, race/ethnicity, academic performance, age-sex-specific body mass index percentiles, and perceived weight status were fitted to assess relationships between UWLP and current substance use. Results About 15 and 41 % of adolescents reported ≥1 UWLP and use of ≥1 substance in the last 30-days, respectively. Over half (60.1 %) of adolescents who reported substance use engaged in UWLP (p < 0.0001). The prevalence of current alcohol use (50.6 %) was the highest among those who reported UWLP, followed by marijuana (31.9 %), tobacco (19.7 %), and cocaine (10.5 %) use. Adolescents who reported current tobacco [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 2.7, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 2.1–3.6], alcohol (AOR 2.2, 95 % CI 1.9–2.6), or marijuana (AOR 2.1, 95 % CI 1.7–2.5) use had significantly higher odds of UWLP compared to their non-user counterparts. Conclusions This cross-sectional study shows that substance use and UWLP behaviors are likely to co-exist in adolescents. Further studies are necessary to determine the temporal relationship between substance use and UWLP. It is recommended that intervention programs for youth consider targeting these multiple health risk behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)870-877
Number of pages8
JournalMaternal and Child Health Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Adolescence
  • CDC
  • Substance use
  • Unhealthy weight loss
  • YRBS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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