Vomiting common weight-loss strategy among adolescents

July 1, 2011

Self-induced vomiting is a frequent practice among adolescents trying to lose weight, according to a new study.

Self-induced vomiting is a frequent practice among adolescents trying to lose weight, findings of a study of Taiwanese school children indicate.

Health care professionals need to be aware of this practice and help adolescents find healthier methods of weight control, the researchers advise.

A cross-sectional survey identified 15,716 students (8,673 girls and 7,043 boys) between 10 and 18 years old who said they had tried to lose weight in the past year.

Self-induced vomiting was significantly associated with several lifestyle factors including eating fried foods every day, more than 2 hours of screen time (television, computer, Internet, video games) daily, and eating nighttime snacks daily. Participants who ate breakfast every day and slept more than 8 hours every night were less likely than others to use self-induced vomiting for weight loss.

The researchers suggest that younger adolescents may be more likely to turn to self-induced vomiting to lose weight because they are just becoming aware of changes in body weight and shape but do not have enough information or resources to use better weight-loss methods. Health care professionals should educate adolescents about healthy and effective weight-loss strategies, they write.

Liou YM, Hsu YW, Ho JF, Lin CH, Hsu WY, Liou TH. Prevalence and correlates of self-induced vomiting as weight-control strategy among adolescents in Taiwan. J Clin Nurs. 2011. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2702.2011.03739.x.