Substance use and weight loss tactics among middle school youth

Joseph P. Garry, Susan L. Morrissey, Lauren M. Whetstone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objective: Diet pills (DP) and vomiting or laxative (VL) use as weight loss tactics are associated with substance use in older adolescent populations. This study examined the association of weight loss tactics and substance use among middle school students. Methods: A Youth Risk Behavior Survey was administered to 6,957 middle school students in eastern North Carolina. Multiple logistic regression examined substance use as predictors of DP and VL use. Results: DP and VL use was reported by 6.0% and 7.1% of students, respectively, with each reported more frequently by females and White students. Regression analysis demonstrated alcohol, cigarette, or marijuana use as predictors for individual race/gender groups whereas steroid use was a predictor for all race/gender groups. We found a clustering effect of alcohol and cigarette use with both DP and VL use. Discussion: Substance use is associated with weight loss tactics as early as middle school. More research in the areas of clustering of behaviors and age at onset is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-63
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003


  • Adolescents
  • Eating disorders
  • Risk factors
  • Substance abuse
  • Weight control


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