Overeating in children may be linked to drug use
December 10th, 2012
02:49 PM ET

Overeating in children may be linked to drug use

Do bad nutrition habits like overeating or binge eating lead to smoking pot? Some health experts think they might, according to a study published Monday.

Habits like overeating have always been known to affect our health, nutritionists say.  In some cases, people say they lose control and just can’t stop. Now scientists are finding that both habits and that feeling of lacking control may lead to other health issues.

Researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital studied a group of 16,882 boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 15 who participated in the Growing Up Today Study, beginning in 1996. From that time to 2005, investigators sent out questionnaires every 12 to 24 months, asking if these children were overeating or binge eating. Binge eating was defined as eating an amount of food that is larger than most people would eat in the same time span under similar circumstances and feeling a lack of control over eating during that time. Overeating did not have to be connected to loss of control.

By looking at the results, clinicians examined the association between overeating (without loss of control) and binge eating (overeating with loss of control) and such health red flags as being overweight or obese, depression, binge drinking, and drug use.

They found binge eating was more common in girls than boys - 2.3% to 3.1% of females and 0.3 % to 1% of males said they were binge eaters between the ages of 16 and 24. And the habit of binge eating led to weight problems.

"In summary, we found that binge eating, but not overeating, predicted the onset of overweight/obesity and worsening depressive symptoms," noted lead author Kendrin Sonneville, a clinical nutrition specialist with Boston Children's Hospital. “It’s understandable about the connection with depressive states because binge eating carries a kind of stigma that could cause those children binge eat, to be depressed,” she added.

However, when it came to overeating, whether the children said they were in control or had lost control of their eating habits, doctors found a strong connection to the onset of marijuana and other drug use, while there was very little connection to either eating habit and binge drinking.

“These findings from this investigation and previous research suggest that lack of control is an important indicator of severity of overeating episodes," Sonneville says. "Why it’s connected to possible drug use, we don’t understand yet.

“However, “ she continued, “Given that binge eating is uniquely predictive of some adverse outcomes and because previous work has found that binge eating can be treated by intervention, clinicians should be encouraged to screen adolescents for binge eating."

The study was published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

soundoff (99 Responses)
  1. saveyourfeet

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    December 10, 2012 at 21:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Peel Layer

      This article should explain how the FDA is allowing for Genetically Modified Foods that are unhealthy to the point of sterilization has entered in to the US Food Supply.
      Things are so messed up because there is no recourse for consumers who are taken advantage of by big business that it is sickening.
      The FDA seems to be cosigning the killing of Americans through our food supply.
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      The only way that you can find any level of comfort is to not think about it.
      But, then the problem is still there.
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      December 11, 2012 at 01:50 | Report abuse |
  2. Seth Bullock

    Doritos are the 1st gateway drug.

    December 10, 2012 at 23:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CurmudgeonTx

      I would have to disagree and say it is puffy cheetos.

      December 11, 2012 at 09:25 | Report abuse |
  3. MediaHype

    What a joke. Really? This is how to spread the anti-drug message since pot is starting to become legal in this country? What causes overeating is putting more food in your mouth. Put down the bag of chips, put down the soda, put down the fast food and take some personal responsibility.

    December 10, 2012 at 23:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CurmudgeonTx

      Dude, they had it just the opposite of what you seem to have read. They are saying the food is leading to the drugs, not the way it really happens, being that the drugs (pot) leads to eating binges.

      December 11, 2012 at 09:26 | Report abuse |
  4. sinsationalbulk

    It is that person's responsibilty point blank. I smoke cigs when bored and eat when bored but does that mean I can't instead exercise or read a book to keep from being bored? Here goes the anti-drug garbage now that it is catching steam. So of all the overweights out there I guess it is because of drugs?

    December 11, 2012 at 00:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Lee

    What a farce of a story. Well, we;ve all heard of the munchies but I would guess that is not the cause of the half of all Americans who are over-weight. It might be more to do with the legal drug called pure refined white crystalline sugar.

    December 11, 2012 at 00:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CurmudgeonTx

      I suspect you have the pure sugar mixed up with the high fructose corn syrup...

      December 11, 2012 at 09:27 | Report abuse |
  6. Blake

    I ate a lot more when I was in season for sports. Football and track always made me hungry so I ate more. I'd say I binge ate when I was playing sport for sure.

    Smoking herb? Sure when you smoke you eat tons, but once not stoned you go back to eating a normal amount. This anti-herb propaganda is getting a bit ridiculous.

    December 11, 2012 at 01:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CurmudgeonTx

      If marijuana is legal, why would you be sober? High and binging 24/7.

      December 11, 2012 at 09:29 | Report abuse |
  7. QuietStormX

    What, give me a break here. First of all who can you equate Marijuana use with being overweight and overeating? If you have never ever smoked a joint and taken a few hits to be buzzed, how can anyone heap prediction on it? Overweight kids are that way because of their parent or parents. Look at them first tells you alot on their eating and fitness. You have to break a sweat to loose and keep it in control. Only eating when you are hungry. This binge or overeating is peer preasure or moods wit girls mostly. Get off their butts. You will feel good after a good sleep. Children don't go grocery shopping, parents do people. Get these overweght children outside or into sports to keep fit. Drug use and being overweight don't make sence to me here. It's being on you butt. You get the munchees and snack till you chill.

    December 11, 2012 at 01:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. CurmudgeonTx

    The guys doing this study could be putting the cart before the horse...Marijuana tends to make binge eaters of people...ever heard of the munchies? It could very well be that smoking pot leads to over-binge-eating, thus dragging down the health of those that smoke it as well as their emotional state. Just a guess..

    December 11, 2012 at 09:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. ReidingIZHurd


    It says that the correlations starts with binge eating, that kids that binge eat and report a feeling of loss of control over their actions while binge eating are more likely to try/ use drugs like MJ. It does not say that MJ is causing kids to become overweight.

    Read people.

    December 11, 2012 at 11:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Portland tony

    I certainly don't remember many of my contemporaries being obese or even on the chubby side when partying with a six pack and a doobie. I don't know where these researchers come up with these cause and effect hypotheses, but I'm sure scientific thought has little to do with it. Getting the munchies doesn't make you
    fat. Fatty or sugary foods eaten over the Long term with little physical activity allows the unwanted weight gain. Without a doubt, MJ rather than alcohol has become the drug of choice among athletes just for health reasons and you see very few obese athletes!

    December 11, 2012 at 15:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. charleygirl13

    I would be curious if the authors looked at histories of adverse childhood experiences (www.cdc.gov/ace) as all of things are also correlated with ACEs, as well.

    December 11, 2012 at 17:04 | Report abuse | Reply
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  12. Mrs.Mason

    Umm, shouldn't it be the other way around? I know when I smoked pot as a teenage, I always ate more than before I started and after I stopped. In fact, while a teenager, I gained 30lbs while smoking, then lost it after I quit. I really think this is definitly a backwards article... and as for other drugs, from personal experiance, most other drugs make you NOT eat, especially meth/cocaine. Just from experiance... from hundreds of people I knew growing up and used those types of drugs with. This is waaaay off.

    December 11, 2012 at 21:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. empresstrudy

    legal weed = mega cheetos.

    December 13, 2012 at 10:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SlowBurn

      nahh niqqa i be munchinq on takis nd gatorade all dayy maybe some tacos lowkey

      May 10, 2013 at 14:00 | Report abuse |
  14. aMarine'sGirl

    This is the most rediculous article ive seen in a long time. Totally off and information is used out of context to spread the anti-marijuana message. And besides, you know that the legalization makes sense if the best thing they can come up with is "dont smoke because... itll make you overeat and become obese". I suppose all the overweight children have been smoking marijuana since early childhood and their parents had absolutely NOTHING to do with it...

    December 16, 2012 at 11:19 | Report abuse | Reply
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      look dnt get all affended but i think u need too just relax and take a hit from the bong relpy me ur number and we talk ight

      May 10, 2013 at 13:52 | Report abuse |
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    December 16, 2012 at 23:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. cm punk

    i got a good way to stop overeating put the damn fork down

    January 3, 2013 at 13:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Owen

    Hi guys. Binge eating is something I have been looking at recently and have written a blog on it where I look at a very interesting study conducted over several years with over 16 thousand teens. You can check it out here if your interested: http://lifeworksowen.blogspot.co.uk/

    March 28, 2013 at 06:32 | Report abuse | Reply
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    marijuana is not a drug itz a plant stupid people try it and itz use for medical conditions.

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    stay smokking chokking rolling blunts!! <$


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