Nature & Environment

Teen Smokers More Likely Struggle With Body Issues

Kathleen Lees
First Posted: Aug 21, 2015 12:14 AM EDT

New findings published in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports reveal that teen smokers may also study with body issues.

"Guilt and shame are two distinct entities," Erin O'Loughlin, a researcher with Concordia's Independent Program (INDI) department, said in a statement. "Shame is tied to self-perception and self-esteem, and reflects a negative evaluation of the self. Guilt has more to do with your actions and reflects a negative evaluation of a specific behavior -- in this case, smoking. Guilt may elicit reparative action such as being physically active, and it may be what is driving young smokers to get moving."

In this recent study, researchers analyzed the survey results from more than 1,000 young people, including data on smokers and non-smokers, mostly aged 16 and 17, whose physical activity was compared to current Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines and Canadian Sedentary Behavior Guidelines.

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Findings revealed that active smokers who met the guidelines were more likely to report higher levels of body-related guilt, with non-active smokers in particular holding the highest levels of body-related shame.

However, researchers noted how teenage girls are still more likely to use smoking as an appetite suppressant when men might use it to help them bulk up. The irony, of course, particularly with the second, is that smoking may actually hinder muscle gain, according to researchers.

Researchers did note that exercise worked as a good way to prevent smoking, and that public health practitioners should continue to encourage all young people to exercise more often.

"Both the active smokers and active non-smokers in the study did about the same amount of physical activity -- so teenagers shouldn't be discouraged from exercise just because they happen to smoke. If they discover that it helps them reduce cigarette cravings, they are on the right track."

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