Using Diet Pills For Weight Control Linked to Increased Risk of Eating Disorder in Young Women

Over-the-counter diet pill and laxative use are not a healthy way to manage weight and young women, or consumers of any age or gender, should not use them for weight control

WeightControl.com Interview with:

Jordan A. Levinson BA
Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine
Boston Children’s Hospital
Boston, MA

WeightControl.com:  What is the background for this study?

Response: Many unhealthy weight control behaviors, including the use of diet pills and laxatives for weight control, can put individuals at risk for developing eating disorders. Though the use of these products is common, it is incredibly dangerous and not recommended by health care providers for weight control. 

WeightControl.com: What are the main findings?

Response: This study is the first to establish the prospective relationship of use of over-the-counter diet pills or laxatives for weight control with eating disorder diagnoses.

We found the young women who use diet pills for weight control has 5 times higher odds for receiving a new eating disorder diagnosis than those who did not, and young women who use laxatives for weight control had 6 times higher odds of receiving a new eating disorder diagnosis than those who did not.

WeightControl.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Over-the-counter diet pill and laxative use are not a healthy way to manage weight and young women, or consumers of any age or gender, should not use them for weight control. Not only can these products lead to high blood pressure and kidney and liver damage, but they can also set young people down a path that can lead to the development of eating disorders. 

WeightControl.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: We are currently working with Representative Kay Khan in Massachusetts to support legislation to ban the sale of weight loss and muscle-building supplements to minors in the state. Lawmakers in Illinois have recently filed similar legislation. Should this legislation be signed into law, it will be important to evaluate the impact of these changes on the health of young people. 

No disclosures.

Citation:

Jordan A. Levinson, Vishnudas Sarda, Kendrin Sonneville, Jerel P. Calzo, Suman Ambwani, and S. Bryn Austin, 0:

Diet Pill and Laxative Use for Weight Control and Subsequent Incident Eating Disorder in US Young Women: 2001–2016

American Journal of Public Health 0, e1_e3, https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2019.305390

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