Background: Concerns about weight and body shape are considered important risk factors for adolescent smoking. This panel study is among the first to examine body image concern as a motive for children’s initial use of tobacco.
Methods: Smoking initiation, body satisfaction, and weight concerns were assessed in three annual surveys of children (n=912) who were 8 to 11 years old at baseline. Logistic regression was used to determine whether girls and boys who tried smoking before sixth grade differ from same-sex peers on baseline indicators of body image concern, and whether these baseline indicators predict smoking initiation at follow-up. Analyses were adjusted for age, school performance, and exposure to parent and peer smoking.
Results: Children’s discontent with weight and appearance increased with age, and approximately 20% of girls and 30% of boys tried smoking before sixth grade. This early initiation was associated with low body satisfaction (girls: OR 1.82, CI 1.10-2.99; boys: OR 2.07, CI 1.10-2.99), preoccupation with attractiveness (girls: OR 2.31; CI 1.47-3.70), and worry about being overweight (boys: OR 2.28, CI 1.43-4.16). In addition, boys and girls who expressed low body satisfaction at baseline were 60% more likely than other peers to report smoking initiation at a one-year follow-up (OR 1.64; CI 1.03-2.61).
Conclusions: The association of body image concern with cigarette smoking is relevant to boys and girls at a younger age than previously thought. Attempts to prevent early initiation may benefit from teaching children that cigarette smoking neither improves self-image nor controls weight.
Learning Objectives: 1. Describe the importance of preventing early initiation; 2. Evaluate cross-sectional and prospective relationships between body image concern and smoking initiation in a three-year panel study of elementary school children
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: None
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.
The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA