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Misperception about body image can trigger alcohol use among teenage girls

Misperception about body image can trigger alcohol use among teenage girls

February 13 | By CAAH Team

More and more adolescents, especially teen girls, are falling prey to alcohol abuse in the United States. Alcohol is the most commonly misused substance among adolescents in the country. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), in 2014, 8.7 million young people aged between 12 and 20 years reported drinking alcohol beyond “just a few sips” in the past month. Besides, there is a trend of weight-loss behavior in concurrence with substance abuse among adolescents.

Negative self-image can chaperone negative behaviors. According to a new study, teenage girls with body image behavioral misperception (BIBM) are more likely to have had at least one alcoholic drink or engage in episodes of drinking heavily compared to their female peers without such misperceptions. BIBM occurs when there is a disparity between body weight perception and actions related to perceived weight status.

The study, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs in January 2017, has tried to ascertain if BIBM — losing, maintaining or gaining weight in the absence of any medical obligation – among high school girls is linked to increased odds of consuming alcohol, current alcohol use or episodes of heavy drinking. The study found compelling evidences that support the relationship between BIBM and alcohol use.

School girls with BIBM more likely to consume alcohol

Researchers collected data from the 2013 National Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, which was a national school-based survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As many as 6,579 girls aged 14 to 18 years participated in the survey. Main findings of the study are:

  • 5 percent girls reported positive for BIBM.
  • 7 percent had at least one drink in their lifetime.
  • 8 percent had episodes of heavy drinking in the previous month.
  • School girls with a BIBM were 1.29 times more likely to consume alcohol.

When the researchers looked at girls with episodic heavy drinking, it was revealed that girls with a BIBM had greater odds of consuming five or more alcoholic drinks in a short span of time compared to girls who did not have a BIBM. Other factors that increased likelihood of episodic heavy drinking included being in 12th grade, experiencing symptoms of depression and smoking cigarettes in the past 30 days. African American girls with a BIBM were linked to less risk of episodic heavy drinking as compared to other ethnicities.

The study is a stepping stone in understanding the causes behind a person with BIBM and alcohol use and helps understand what propels such behaviors. The findings of the study can also supplement in the examination of alcohol abuse as a coping mechanism or if alcohol is used to gain or lose weight along with veiling risk factors in childhood.

However, the study has its limitations. Some of them are:

  • The 2013 Youth Risk Behavioral Study was self-reporting in nature.
  • It is not possible to adjudge if the participants of the study were using alcohol as a weight change mechanism or as a means to feel more socially accepted, or feelings of inadequacy with themselves.

Make the right call to stay away from alcohol

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse, seek professional help from the Colorado Alcohol Addiction Help that offers the best evidence-based treatment plans. Call at our 24/7 helpline number (866) 592-9261 to avail the best alcohol addiction treatment in Colorado. You can also chat online with our medical representatives to know more about the nearest alcohol addiction treatment centers in Colorado.

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