Page last updated: August 17, 2017

Adolescent tobacco and alcohol use: the influence of body image

The association between body image and adolescent substance use is underexplored despite the established relationship between body image and risky behaviours.

A study used data from the Health Behavior in School-Aged Children 2001–2002 survey, a nationally representative survey of youths in the United States to derive measures including perceived size/ weight, perceived attractiveness, ever tried smoking, currently a smoker, currently a drinker, and binge drinking in the previous 30 days.

The study found that size and attractiveness perceptions were related to substance use, although the association differed by gender. The significant findings and implications are discussed.

Body image is related to a myriad of health behaviours and outcomes. Given existing associations between substance use, particularly alcohol and tobacco use, and physical and sexual health outcomes, reducing substance use among youths is a public health priority.

The study provides further evidence that interventions and policies aimed at improving body image have the potential to improve overall health and well-being.

Source: Adolescent tobacco and alcohol use: the influence of body image. VR Winter, AK Kennedy & E O’Neill. Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse, Volume 26, 2017 - Issue 3 Pages 219-228, Published online: 23 Feb 2017. tandfonline. com/doi/full/10.1080/106782 8X.2017.1279992


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