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Young Binge Eaters Prone to Illicit Drug Use: Study
Date:12/10/2012

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Dec. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Tweens, teens and young adults who routinely overeat appear to be more likely to experiment with marijuana or other drugs, new research suggests.

The observation stems from a decade-long research effort, during which nearly 17,000 boys and girls were tracked to assess eating and drug-use patterns.

The bottom-line: Drug use increased among all overeaters, regardless of whether that behavior took the form of relatively controlled overeating or binge-eating behavior, which involves a loss of eating control.

"Previous research has demonstrated a link between overeating and binge eating and other health concerns, so most of the results were as we expected," said Kendrin Sonneville, a registered dietician in the division of adolescent/young adult medicine at Children's Hospital Boston.

She did suggest, however, that some findings, including that "teens who binge eat were no more likely to start binge drinking frequently than those who did not binge eat," were somewhat surprising.

What's more, Sonneville noted, although "it may seem that overeating and binge eating would only be a concern for individuals who are obese, this study shows that these behaviors are problematic for all kids. No matter what they weighed, teens who reported binge eating where more likely to start using drugs and to become depressed than those who did not binge eat."

The study, which appears online Dec. 10 in the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, received funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

All participants were between the ages of 9 and 16 when first enrolled in the study. Between 1996 and 2005, they completed questionnaires regarding their eating and drug-use habits every one or two years.

At one point or another, the questionnaires asked about the use of marijuana, hashish, cocaine, crack, heroin,
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