GAINESVILLE, Fla. Starting to diet seems to double the odds a teenage girl will begin smoking, a University of Florida study has found.
UF researchers, who analyzed the dieting and smoking practices of 8,000 adolescents, did not find the same link in boys, who were also less likely than girls to diet, according to findings released Friday in the American Journal of Health Promotion.
Dieting was a significant predictor of initiation of regular smoking among females, said Mildred Maldonado-Molina, Ph.D., a UF assistant professor of epidemiology and health policy research and lead author of the study. We were expecting that this relationship was going to be stronger among females. That has been well-documented, especially because (nicotine) can suppress your appetite.
In boys we found something we dont understand yet, she said. We found that those who were inactive dieters, those who first started dieting and then stopped, were more likely to engage in smoking behaviors.
The researchers derived their findings from the answers of 7,795 adolescents who were surveyed during the first two waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, completed in 1994 and 1996. The teens were in seventh, eighth and ninth grade when surveyed.
UF researchers included the answers of adolescents who said they were trying to lose weight and divided the group into four units: non-dieters, new dieters, former dieters and consistent dieters, who said they were dieting both times they were surveyed. They excluded teens who were already smokers and those who admitted to taking diet pills, vomiting and using other unhealthy weight-loss tactics.
That group (of teens who were beginning to diet) was the one we were most interested in, seeing how the start of one behavior related to initiation of smoking, Maldonado-Molina said.
Researchers also found that girls who consistently dieted were more likely to smoke.'/>"/>
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University of Florida