The urge to live healthy often stems from wanting to look good and fit. During the teenage years it holds even more importance because of peer pressure or popular trend. And not being able to look good often leads to kids adopting unhealthy habits such as alcohol and tobacco use. Hence it becomes important for parents to encourage their kid to stay fit and healthy. According to a recent study, body size of teenagers is a factor which is associated with alcohol and tobacco use.
Prior body image research has shown that people with negative body image are more likely to develop eating disorders and suffer from depression and low self-esteem. Now, Virginia Ramseyer Winter, a body image expert and an assistant professor in the University of Missouri’s School of Social Work, found negative body image also is associated with increased tobacco and alcohol use, with implications for both young men and women.
Ramseyer Winter and her co-authors, Andrea Kennedy and Elizabeth O’Neill, used data from a national survey of American teenagers to determine the associations between perceived size and weight, perceived attractiveness, and levels of alcohol and tobacco use. The researchers found that perceived size and attractiveness were significantly related to substance use. Adolescent girls who perceived their body size to be too fat were more likely to use alcohol and tobacco. Boys who thought they were too skinny were more likely to smoke, and boys who considered themselves fat were more likely to binge drink.
In addition to body size, the researchers looked at the connection between perceived attractiveness and substance use. Girls who thought they were not at all good looking were more likely to smoke. Girls who thought they were very good looking were more likely to binge drink. Ramseyer Winter suggests this is because attractiveness may be associated with popularity, which is related to increased alcohol use.