Dieting teenagers are more likely to partake in other unhealthy activities, according to a new study. And there are common factors behind these behaviours

A study in Canada has found that teenage girls who diet are also more likely to take part in unhealthy behaviours, such as smoking and binge drinking. The research, involving more than 3,300 high-school students in Ontario, found that dieters were more likely to smoke, drink and skip breakfast three years later. Smoking and skipping meals have long been considered – unhealthily and erroneously – a way to lose weight. “But the explanation is not so clear for something like binge drinking,” said Amanda Raffoul, who led the study for the University of Waterloo. “It was worrying, she added, “since 70% of girls reported dieting at some point over the three years.” Previous studies, also in Canada, found that teenage girls undertook unhealthy weight-control methods such as vomiting (affecting between 5% and 12% of adolescent girls), diet pill use (between 3% and 10%) and smoking (up to 18% of girls).

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