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Study Associates Binge Eating With Onset of Marijuana

Update Date: Dec 11, 2012 12:31 PM EST

In a new study aimed at examining the association between overeating, binge eating and adverse outcomes such as overweight/obesity, depression, frequent binge drinking, marijuana use and other drug use, researchers have found that youngsters who overeat or binge eat, may be at increased risk of initiating use of marijuana and other drugs.

According to the definition by DSM -4, binge eating is eating an amount of food that is larger than most people would eat in a similar period under similar circumstances and feeling a lack of control over eating during the episode, according to the study background, reports Medical Xpress.

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For the study, researcher Kendrin R. Sonneville, Sc.D., R.D., of Boston Children's Hospital, and colleagues studied 16,882 boys and girls aged between 9 and 15 years in 1996.

The eating habits of the teenagers were assessed with the help of questionnaires administered to them every one or two years between 1996 and 2005. It was found that binge eating was more common among girls when compared to boys, with 2.3 percent to 3.1 percent of girls doing it between the ages of 16 and 24.

"In summary, we found that binge eating, but not overeating, predicted the onset of overweight/obesity and worsening depressive symptoms. We further observed that any overeating, with or without LOC [loss of control], predicted the onset of marijuana and other drug use," the authors comment.

However, neither overeating nor binge eating seemed to be associated with starting to binge drink frequently, the study found.

"Findings from this investigation and previous research suggest that LOC is an important indicator of severity of overeating episodes and highlight the importance of ascertaining LOC, in addition to whether adolescents engage in overeating episodes," the authors conclude.

"Given that binge eating is uniquely predictive of some adverse outcomes and because previous work has found that binge eating is amenable to intervention, clinicians should be encouraged to screen adolescents for binge eating."

The study was published Online First by Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

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