Substance abuse has diet side effects in teens

Scientists have concluded recently that substance abuse (alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use) leads to poor practices of diet amongst teenagers. These findings are based on a study done in the metropolitan area of St. Paul/Minneapolis. Team COOL (Controlling Overweight and Obesity for Life) performed a study on 145 teens that were attending alternative schools in the St. Paul/Minneapolis area were given surveys.

The aim of the study was to determine if there was a significant relationship between dietary habits and substance abuse behaviours. The dietary habits that were specifically interested in were the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, high fat, fruits and vegetables. The study also was aimed at reducing childhood obesity as an intervention project.

Six schools were selected as part of the project and all students were less than 18 years of age with the median age being 17.3 years. A 76 item questionnaire was given to each which asked them about dietary practices, marijuana use, smoking and alcohol consumption.

The questionnaire also asked about fast food restaurant trips, soda consumption and fat intake. The surveyed was completed in about 40 minutes at which time both height and weight were measured for each person and each received a $5 gift card for their participation.

Close to half were male that participated with a larger percentage being minority with the race non white mean being 62% and ranged from 31% to 96%. This may have been in part because the study was done in the setting of an alternative school. Thirty six percent said they have daily tobacco use.

Associations with the following were found. Cigarette smoking accompanied an increase in soda consumption p=(0.019), incidence in fast food visits (p=0.002) and fat rich foods (p=0.037). Marijuana and alcohol were associated with the higher intake of fat. There were not associations made between substance abuse and the eating of fruits and vegetables.

The conclusion was that unhealthy dietary practices help to contribute to substance abuse adverse effects acting as an independent factor in many diseases such as cancer and atherosclerosis. Because close to 40% of teenagers in the study admitted to marijuana use this study also sheds new light on an old story, widespread marijuana use in our young.