Playing school sports affects youths' smoking

Young people's choices about using drugs and alcohol are influenced by peers—not only close friends, but also sports teammates. A new study of middle schoolers and their social networks has found that teammates' smoking plays a big role in youths' decisions about smoking, but adolescents who take part in a lot of sports smoke less.

The study was conducted at the University of Southern California (USC) and appears in the journal Child Development.

Researchers looked at 1,260 ethnically diverse, urban, middle-class sixth through eighth graders. They asked the students about their own smoking behavior, and they asked them to name friends at school as well as the organized they took part in at school. Then, using a social network method they developed, they examined how participation in sports with teammates who smoked affected adolescents' smoking behavior.

They found that youths were more likely to smoke as they were increasingly exposed to teammates who smoked, and that this tendency may be stronger among girls than boys. But they also found that youths who took part in a greater number of sports were less likely to smoke than those who participated in fewer.

"This result suggests that on athletic teams influence the smoking behavior of others even though there might be a protective effect overall of increased participation in athletics on smoking," according to Kayo Fujimoto, assistant professor of health promotion and behavioral sciences at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, who led the study when she was at USC.

The study has implications for programs aimed at preventing teens from . "Current guidelines recommend the use of peer leaders selected within the class to implement such programs," Fujimoto points out. "The findings of this study suggest that peer-led interactive programs should be expanded to include sports teams as well."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Germany: Every fifth adolescent smokes

Apr 23, 2008

As many as 20% of adolescents from 11 to 17 years of age smoke. This was the result of the nationwide German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents (KiGGS), performed by the Robert Koch Institute ...

Recommended for you

Suddenly health insurance is not for sale

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)— Darlene Tucker, an independent insurance broker in Scotts Hill, Tenn., says health insurers in her area aren't selling policies year-round anymore.

Study: Half of jailed NYC youths have brain injury (Update)

Apr 18, 2014

About half of all 16- to 18-year-olds coming into New York City's jails say they had a traumatic brain injury before being incarcerated, most caused by assaults, according to a new study that's the latest in a growing body ...

Autonomy and relationships among 'good life' goals

Apr 18, 2014

Young adults with Down syndrome have a strong desire to be self-sufficient by living independently and having a job, according to a study into the meaning of wellbeing among young people affected by the disorder.

User comments