A new study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine shows that overeating in children may be linked to drug use. 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. From 1996 to 2005, investigators sent out questionnaires every 12 to 24 months, asking if these children were overeating or binge eating, 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.
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.
“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.
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.