Researchers at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, in Bethesda, Maryland examined the association of overweight and obesity with health-risk behaviors among US youth.

First, the details.

  • Self-reported height and weight, substance use, violence, and bullying were assessed in a nationally representative sample of 7825 students aged 11 to 17 years.

And, the results.

  • Significant gender and age differences in the relationship of overweight/obesity with risk behaviors were observed.
  • In girls…
    • Overweight and obesity were associated with substance use.
    • Among younger girls, frequent smoking and drinking were associated with overweight and obesity.
    • Among younger girls, frequent smoking and cannabis use were associated with overweight.
    • In older girls, these behaviors were associated with obesity.
  • In boys…
    • Relationships between violent behavior and overweight/obesity were mainly observed among boys.
    • Younger obese boys were more likely to be victims of bullying.
    • Older obese boys were more likely to carry weapons compared to boys of normal weight.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “Overweight and obese young people are at risk of developing health-compromising behaviors that may compound medical and social problems associated with excess weight.”

They’re careful not to suggest a cause and effect relationship.

A passage in 1 Corinthians 10:23 tells us, “Everything is permissible” — but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible — but not everything is constructive.”

The solution to lowering the risk of harmful activities in children (including obesity) is in knowing the difference, IMO. I think this comes from learning self-respect. People who know their lives are worthwhile and respect themselves are less likely to make choices that abuse their bodies.

I don’t think calories are the problem in obesity, lack of self-respect (possibly part of an underlying depression) is.

Similarly, I don’t think young people abuse drugs because they think it’s cool. They do it because they don’t see a better option. Self-respect is that missing option in their lives.


5/12/10 12:06 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.