Teens who tan indoors at risk of eating disorders?

April 17, 2014

A new study finds that adolescents who report tanning indoors are more likely to engage in unhealthy weight loss practices, suggesting an underlying body image problem may put this group at increased risk of eating disorders. Surprisingly, males may be at higher risk than females.

 

A new study finds that adolescents who report tanning indoors are more likely to engage in unhealthy weight loss practices, suggesting an underlying body image problem may put this group at increased risk of eating disorders. Surprisingly males may be at higher risk than females.

Researchers from the New York University School of Medicine looked at nationally representative survey data on almost 27,000 high school students.

Almost one-fourth (23.3%) of the girls and 6.5% of the boys reported indoor tanning within the past year. Of those aged 18 years and older, a full one-third of young women and 11% of young men reported indoor tanning.

Compared with boys who did not tan indoors, those who did were more than 7 times as likely to have vomited or taken a laxative to lose weight; more than 4 times as likely to have used a pill, powder, or liquid without a doctor’s consent to lose weight; and more than twice as likely to have fasted, within the past 30 days.

As for the girls, those who tanned indoors were more than twice as likely to have taken a pill, powder, or liquid; 1.4 times as likely to have vomited or used a laxative; and 1.2 times as likely to have fasted, within the past month, compared with girls who did not tan indoors.

The researchers conclude “that screening for indoor tanning may help identify patients at risk for unhealthy weight control behaviors as well.”

One study published last year reported that the rate of melanoma among children aged 0 to 19 years increased by an average of 2% per year from 1973 through 2009. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, a number of studies have shown that using indoor tanning beds increases the risk of melanoma, and at least 1 study has shown that the younger a person is when he or she starts using the beds, the greater the risk becomes. 

 

 

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