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Saturday, November 05, 2016

The Youth Imperative of Weight Loss

"This [survey] helps us better understand why people choose to engage in risky health behaviours. It's not always just about the immediate pleasure of enjoyment; sometimes it's a means to another end."
"One hundred years ago, what we mostly died of were infectious diseases, like tuberculosis and influenza. Now we die from our own choices."
"At all levels of government, there's a realization that we need to find ways to stop teenagers from developing poor health habits."
"Initially, a teenager may not enjoy smoking at all. But they may still do it if it gets them something else that they value, such as losing weight. Even if it weren't true [that smoking helps lost weight], but people believed it was true, it could still cause a derived demand."
"This is the first  detailed data on people's motivations for smoking for a nationally representative sample of U.S. teenagers."
"There's a strong economic case for taxing cigarettes. It's just that the taxes may not decrease consumption among girls as much as you might hope or think. But if you can break the perceived connection between smoking and weight loss, you may increase their responsiveness to taxes."
Dr. John Cawley, professor of policy analysis and management, Cornell University
teens smoking

Many Teens Light Up to Lose Weight, Study Suggests Researchers offer new ways to discourage smoking among A new study recently published in the journal HEalth Economicsadolescents  Health Day News

A new study whose results were recently published in the journal Health Economics brought together researchers from the United States at Cornell University, along with researchers from the University of Bologna, Italy and the University of Bristol, United Kingdom, unified in their opinion that what primarily motives teens to smoke tobacco is not just the 'cool' factor but their belief in the fact that smoking cigarettes will help them lose weight. In this era when teens are hyper-critical of their body images and how they stack up personally to the perceived ideal as a motivator, smoking becomes a habit that portends ill for the health future of young people.

Smoking in the maturity-formative teen years is a focus that public health authorities are particularly aware of and certainly concerned about. They know that people who begin their smoking careers by the time they reach their 20s and earlier, are most likely to continue the habit, addictive as it is, into and throughout adulthood. The fact that tobacco has been identified by medical science is the number one preventable cause of death in North America simply highlights that concern.

To arrive at their conclusions, researchers took data from a survey, the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children, conducted in 2001 - 2002 and 2005 - 2006 that represented over ten thousand American schoolchildren whose ages at the time were 11, 13, or 15. Researchers made use of figures reported to them by the children themselves such as height and weight, which led to the calculation of their body mass indexes. Along with that basic data the children also stated their idea of what their weight represented to them.

The uncompleted question begging a response was put to the youth: "Do  you think your body is ... ," to which each of the study subjects responded with various degrees of self-criticism such as "much too thin", "a bit too thin", "about right", "a bit too fat", or "much too fat". The survey subjects were also asked if they had subjected themselves to anything that had the purpose of having them lose weight. They were asked what that might have been, and finally whether they smoked and the frequency of their smoking.

It was discovered, among other things, that young Caucasians were over twice as likely as African-American adolescents to consider smoking to represent an avenue toward weight loss. In point of actual fact, scientific evidence exists proving that smoking increases metabolism and decreases appetite. So what might otherwise be considered an urban legend is validated by science. Researchers still looked for a reasonable explanation to help explain the phenomenon of teen smoking in view of its health-destructive properties.

Applying an economic model, they looked to the concept of derived demand. That phrase represents individuals seeking out and practising a habit whose anticipated end purpose is demanded in the belief it will aid in achieving another objective, beyond, in the smoking of tobacco, personal pleasure. If the long-term goal is losing weight that propels teens toward smoking and not the short-term and immediate feeling of satisfaction; this is considered to be a 'derived demand'.

Girls who stated they were "much too fat" were about 225 percent likelier to smoke for the purpose of losing weight than would be girls who felt their weight was acceptable, according to a study. Boys, on the other hand, are less concerned over being overweight than girls so their opinion of themselves was less predictive for smoking. They are not exposed to the self-critiquing pressure that girls are by society. Despite which, boys who felt they were "much too fat" were also about 145 percent likelier to smoke to lose weight than boys feeling their weight was fine.

Dr. Cawley feels that anti-smoking policies might be developed to target an impressionable teen audience. That, as an example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration might consider the utility of prohibiting cigarette manufacturers from using the idea of smoking's capacity to help lose weight as an attractive promotional tool targeting self-critical teens.

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