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Keywords:

  • substance use;
  • male and female adolescents;
  • binge eating

Abstract

Objective

This study examines the relationship between binge eating and substance use behaviors and attitudes in adolescents and explores gender differences and mental health correlates.

Method

The data are derived from the 1997 Ontario Student Drug Use Survey of public and Catholic school students. A weighted sample of 1,031 girls and 888 boys was categorized as nonbingers, past bingers, and noncompensating or compensating binge eaters.

Results

Binge eaters, particularly those who compensated, were more likely to use all types of substances, particularly cannabis and drugs other than tobacco and alcohol. Binge eating was associated with more problematic and heavier substance use and with lowered self-esteem and more depression. Female bingers were more likely to report compensatory behaviors than male students but gender differences in the relationship between binge eating and substance use were few.

Discussion

Adolescent binge eaters who engage in compensatory behaviors may be an appropriate target group for preventive programs in high schools. © 1999 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 26: 245–260, 1999.