Does a relationship exist between body weight, concerns about weight, and smoking among adolescents? An integration of the literature with an emphasis on gender

Nicotine Tob Res. 2004 Jun;6(3):397-425. doi: 10.1080/14622200410001696529.


It has been speculated that body weight and concern about body weight are important factors in initiation of tobacco use among adolescents, particularly females. An examination of studies that have explored these relationships can provide important information on possible underlying mechanisms that could be used for prevention interventions. This review summarizes recent studies examining weight concerns and youth smoking, with a focus on gender differences. These studies were integrated with the few studies that have examined the relationship between actual body weight and smoking among adolescents. A total of 55 primary research articles met inclusion criteria for the review. Of these, 19 studies assessed the relationship between body weight and smoking, and 50 studies addressed weight concerns and smoking. Some evidence indicated a positive relationship between smoking and body weight among adolescents, although not all studies found a positive association. In terms of the relationship between weight concerns and adolescent smoking, the amount of evidence supporting a positive association differed depending on the dimension of weight concern considered, with the strongest evidence for dieting behaviors. For dieting behaviors, disordered eating symptoms, and some aspects of general weight concerns, the positive relationship with smoking was more consistent among female adolescents than among male adolescents. Possible explanations for these findings are discussed, and priorities for future research are identified.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Body Image*
  • Body Weight*
  • Diet, Reducing
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / psychology*