A survey of more than 33,000 Italian high school students reveals that both underweight and overweight teens consume 20 to 40% more illegal drugs than their normal-weight peers.
Further analysis showed that the relationship between these two factors was largely mediated by psychosocial factors such as self-esteem, parents' educational level, and friendships.
Based on these results, the authors conclude that abnormal weight and substance abuse are not directly related in a cause-effect relationship, but instead are likely both due to common underlying social factors and dissatisfaction.
"Eating disorders have largely increased during the last decades, and obesity is a major public-health problem, especially since the phenomenon is spreading among children. Thus we believe that the results are important to better define targeted interventions", says Dr. Sabrina Moinaro.
Explore further: Pre-pregnancy overweight may program teen asthma symptoms
Denoth F, Siciliano V, Iozzo P, Fortunato L, Molinaro S (2011) The Association between Overweight and Illegal Drug Consumption in Adolescents: Is There an Underlying Influence of the Sociocultural Environment? PLoS ONE 6(11): e27358. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0027358