A recently released study on eating disorders shows that people who binge eat are more likely to drink too much and use drugs like cannabis.
The study, which examined 16,882 people between 16 and 24 found that women were most likely to have engaged in binge eating. Between 2.3% and 3.1% of all the women surveyed had some episode of binge eating while men had an incidence of just .3% to 1%.
The report also found that binge eating but not overeating was indicative of future obesity and depression. Furthermore, any overeating was more common in people who would later use drugs like cannabis.
This could be explained by underlying depression or body image issues. As people struggle to deal with their problems, some turn to self-medication. This can start with food but often moves on to other substances like drugs.
For those that are prone to self-medicate, it may be a logical progression from food to cannabis or other drugs. This becomes a self-defeating cycle.
Previous research shows that self-medicating with almost anything can cause health problems. People who use food to self-sooth are more prone to body image issues, obesity, diabetes and hearth disease. Those who try to treat their depression or other issues with cannabis often end up making the problem worse. A White House report shows that American teens using cannabis to treat their depression are at a higher risk of developing mental health problems like schizophrenia, anxiety, and suicidal tendencies.
The report concluded that, "Findings from this investigation and previous research suggest that LOC (loss of control) is an important indicator of severity of overeating episodes and highlight the importance of ascertaining LOC, in addition to whether adolescents engage in overeating episodes,” said researchers.
“Given that binge eating is uniquely predictive of some adverse outcomes and because previous work has found that binge eating is amenable to intervention, clinicians should be encouraged to screen adolescents for binge eating."
As more is learned about binge eating and its side effects, medical professionals may be able to use this knowledge to help predict future problems.