Weight-Based Bullying Linked to Increased Adolescent Alcohol, Marijuana Use
Jim Liebelt Jim Liebelt's Blog
- 2020 Feb 26
*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on ScienceDaily.
Adolescents who are bullied about their weight or body shape may be more likely to use alcohol or marijuana than those who are not bullied, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.
The link between appearance-related teasing and substance use was strongest among overweight girls, raising special concerns about this group.
"This type of bullying is incredibly common and has many negative effects for adolescents," said lead study author Melanie Klinck, BA, a clinical research assistant at the University of Connecticut. "The combination of appearance-related teasing and the increased sensitivity to body image during adolescence may create a heightened risk for substance use."
The study, which was conducted at Connecticut Children's Medical Center, involved a survey of 1,344 students ages 11 to 14 from five public middle schools near Hartford, Connecticut. The students were asked if siblings, parents or peers had teased them about their weight, body shape or eating during the prior six months. More than half (55%) of the overall participants reported weight-based teasing, including three out of four overweight girls (76%), 71% of overweight boys, 52% of girls who weren't overweight, and 43% of boys who weren't overweight.
The participants also were asked about their alcohol and marijuana use. The results showed that frequent weight-based teasing was associated with higher levels of total alcohol use, binge drinking, and marijuana use. In a follow-up survey six months later, weight-based teasing was still linked to total alcohol use and binge drinking. The research was published online in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.