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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Minnesota: Study Ties Harmful Body Comments in Adolescence to Substance Use in Adulthood

A University of Minnesota School of Public Health study found that girls who used unhealthy weight-control behaviors and experienced the harms of weight stigma during adolescence were likely to use substances as adults

The study, led by postdoctoral researcher Dr. Melissa Simone and co-authored by professor, Dr. Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, was published in the journal Social Science & Medicine.

The study analyzed survey data from 1,147 women participating in the school’s Project EAT, a long-term research project tracking the health and wellbeing of adolescents into adulthood. The researchers looked at participants’ reports of weight stigma and unhealthy weight-control behaviors from surveys completed at the start of the project when they were teenagers. The participants were then split into three groups based on their weight stigma experiences: those who reported no weight stigma; weight stigma only (being teased by peers or parents) with no sense of harm; and weight stigma with perceived harms (e.g., being bothered by teasing).

Next, the researchers reviewed surveys from the same participants completed 10 years later when they were young adults and identified any reported substance use.

The results showed:

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