Monday, November 8, 2010

Dieting Linked to Smoking among Girls

While watching a classic film recently, it seemed that all the characters played by the actors were smoking cigarettes. Then I recalled that was indeed the way it used to be. And, although there are some movies and television programs that have gone back to having main characters smoking, it still is less prevalent than in the days before we learned how detrimental to health smoking really is.

The good news is that in about the past ten years, the percent of high school students in the U.S. who smoked regularly has dropped from about 35 to 23 percent – according to the Centers for Disease Control.

However, there are some teens who appear to be more at risk of picking up the bad habit. Recent research published in the American Journal of Health Promotion found that teenage girls who started diets were twice as likely to start smoking as their peers who did not diet.

Consistent with previous studies, the researchers found that dieting and weight concerns were not related to smoking among boys. Additionally, boys who were not overweight were more likely to try smoking, but were not as likely to smoke regularly.

The researchers suggested that health educators and practitioners should consider the link between initiation of dieting and regular smoking as they develop and use intervention and smoking prevention messages and programs. They also caution that parents need not panic if their child changes their diet. If, for example, your child begins eating healthier and more balanced meals, these changes should be celebrated as part of a healthier overall lifestyle.

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