(RxWiki News) For girls, being obese isn't just a physical challenge. Carrying too many pounds can result in low self-esteem and depression, which in turn makes girls more vulnerable to addiction.
A recent study suggests that obese teenage girls have more serious problems than worrying about puppy love and other hormonal changes. Obesity puts them at risk for becoming smokers.
"Obesity increases the likelihood that teenage girls will become addicted to smoking."
Lead Author Aliya Esmail Hussaini, M.D., of the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation in Austin, found that obese teenage girls were twice as likely to develop an addiction to nicotine than normal weight girls. The study lasted more than six years and observed more than 4,000 U.S. adolescent girls. The girls were asked to partake in three waves of surveys.
Dr. Hussaini and team found that the obese teenage girls who participated in the study were more likely to report low self-esteem, depression, and poor academic performance.
All three of those symptoms are risk factors that can lead to problematic behaviors like smoking, drug use, alcohol use and other challenges.
The link between obesity and nicotine addiction was still apparent after taking into account many factors like race, age, socioeconomic status and parental smoking habits.
Dr. Hussaini concludes that keeping kids on track at school and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are important for the physical and mental well-being of youngsters.
She says that parents have an enormous impact in these area and urges them to take initiative to be good role models by not smoking, eating healthier and exercising.
The research was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.