Overweight Young Girls Likely to Use Substances Early

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Overweight Young Girls Likely to Use Substances Early

Physical and mental characteristics in childhood have often been linked to substance abuse later in life. Most recently, obesity in young girls has been linked to earlier use of marijuana, alcohol and cigarettes, according to a study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

The study, conducted by Indiana University School of Education, looked at data from 7,000 participants in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. They analyzed the weight of the participants when they were 7 or 8 years old and then again when they began using substances. The results found overall the girls who are overweight as children will use drugs and alcohol earlier than girls who are at a healthy weight.

The results were also specific to gender and race. Hispanic girls used alcohol and marijuana earlier, while white girls used cigarettes and marijuana earlier. There was no correlation between weight and drug use in black girls. There was also not a strong link in males, specifically in underweight black and Hispanic males and overweight white males. Previous studies showed no link between weight and substance abuse, but unlike this study, those studies did not look as closely at gender and race.