Obese teens tend to be socially outcast, and so researchers had long assumed they were less likely to engage in the kinds of risky social behaviors that mark traditional adolescence: drinking, smoking and hooking up. But a new survey finds that in fact obese teens are just as likely to participate in these rites of teenhood as their thinner peers.
In some ways, obese teens' behavior is even riskier. The study found that obese teenagers drank alcohol about as often as normal-weight classmates, but they were more likely to smoke cigarettes. And while obese teen girls were less likely to have sex than thin girls, those who were sexually active were more likely to use drugs or alcohol before sex.
The survey included responses from 9,000 high school students. Among the students, 410 were extremely obese, and the rest were considered healthy weight.
"Obese adolescents are already at greater risk for the development of additional chronic health conditions, the likes of which may be exacerbated by cigarette smoking, resulting in compound health risk," wrote the researchers.