How A Teenage Girl's Body Image Can Affect Her Drinking

Illustrated by Assa Ariyoshi
Teenage girls who suffer from poor body image are more likely to drink alcohol, new research suggests.

A study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that girls aged between 14 and 18 who experience "body image and behavioural misperception" (BIBM) were 1.29 times more likely to drink alcohol than those who don't experience BIBM.

Girls who experience BIBM were 1.22 times more likely to have tried "heavy episodic drinking" - defined as having five or more alcoholic drinks within a few hours – than those who don't experience BIBM.

Data from a total of 6,579 girls studying at U.S. high schools was used in the research. However, the authors admitted that the fact the girls recorded their own data, making it more open to error, imposed a "significant limitation" on the results.

One of the study's authors, Dr. Margie Skeer of Tufts University School of Medicine, said in response to the results: "We found significant relationships between this [body image] misperception and reporting ever having had alcohol, as well as reporting episodic heavy drinking among high school girls.

"Paying attention to this behaviour in this population could help identify factors supporting the relationship between this misperception and drinking, as well as other risk behaviours, beyond high school."

Another of the study's authors, Anna Schlissel, said further research is now needed to examine whether "excessive alcohol use" is being used by some teenage girls "as a coping mechanism or as a way to gain or lose weight."
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