Disordered eating and substance use in high-school students: Results from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System




To examine the association between disordered eating (fasting, diet product use, and vomiting or laxative use) and use of 10 substances (cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, inhalants, heroin, methamphetamines, ecstasy, steroids, and hallucinogens) in a nationally representative adolescent sample.


Participants were 13,917 U.S. high-school students participating in the 2005 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System.


Disordered eating was significantly associated with the use of each substance. Using effect size estimates that take base rates into consideration, for female students, associations between substance use and disordered eating were weak for all but three forms of substance use: current smoking, binge drinking, and inhalants. Among male students, strong (marijuana, steroids, and inhalants) or moderate effects (all other substances) were observed.


Future research needs to focus on inhalant use and methamphetamine use in males. Increased medical attention should be directed toward adolescents who practice disordered eating behaviors because they are also at elevated risk for using cigarettes, alcohol, inhalants, methamphetamines, and steroids. © 2008 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2008