New study finds link between body image and substance abuse - KCTV5

New study finds link between body image and substance abuse

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This research from Mizzou shows perception of body image does not just make someone depressed or have low self-esteem, but can also cause unhealthy habits as well. (KCTV5) This research from Mizzou shows perception of body image does not just make someone depressed or have low self-esteem, but can also cause unhealthy habits as well. (KCTV5)
COLUMBIA, MO (KCTV) -

A new study out of the University of Missouri is showing a link between perceived body image in teens and the likelihood to smoke and drink.

It is hard for teens and even adults to refrain from comparing their looks to that of their peers and celebrities. And there is no shortage of photoshopped images in print and online.

Now, this research from Mizzou shows perception of body image does not just make someone depressed or have low self-esteem, but can also cause unhealthy habits as well.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all,” said Marcy Cassidy, an educator and a mother of a teenaged son.

Cassidy claims body shaming and body image are always a concern when raising a child.

“All we see is people with a six pack, tan. You don’t ever see a real person,” Cassidy’s son Max states.

Mizzou’s study shows body image can lead to substance abuse.

Adolescent girls who think they are too fat are more likely to smoke and drink.

Boys who think they are too skinny are more likely to smoke, while boys who consider themselves fat are more likely to binge drink.

“I think the pressures have increased, and social media has greatly increased and impacted their lives and the amount of time they spend on social media; so, I could certainly see how that happens,” Cassidy observed.

The research goes on to reveal that it is not just girls who are guilty of judging themselves.

“It is not just the girls; the boys have a hard time as well. If they try to measure up to what they see on TV, sports, modeling, magazines, whatever they see out there, if they try to measure up to that, it’s going to be hard on them,” said Amy Cummins, a mother of three and a youth group leader.

Cummins says she recently talked to teens about the harmful effects of body shaming and substance abuse.

“You could be convinced to do just about anything,” Cummins warned.

The study did not focus on size. It also considered links between substance abuse and perceived attractiveness.

It found that girls who consider themselves unattractive are more likely to smoke, while girls who consider themselves good-looking are more likely to binge drink.

Researchers say this is an opportunity for parents to talk to their teens.

When telling them to stay away from drugs and alcohol, mention that it should never be used as a tool to feel cool or more attractive.

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