A new study conducted by the University of Toronto (UT) has found that vaping and using e-cigarettes are correlated with a heightened risk of developing an eating disorder among college students.
After collecting samples from more than 50,000 higher education students, the researchers discovered that those diagnosed with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa tend to have a proclivity for vaping or e-cigarette use.
According to UT assistant professor and lead author of the study, Kyle T. Ganson, the prevalence of vaping among those exhibiting eating disorder symptoms is “concerning” because it can exacerbate health complications such as cardiovascular, pulmonary, and neurological problems.
Furthermore, the study found that nicotine vaping was the most common behavior among participants. “Nicotine vaping may be used by individuals to support eating disorder behaviors and goals, such as suppressing appetite and catalyzing weight loss,” Ganson said, as quoted by the Medical Express. “Nicotine vaping can lead to dependence and future polysubstance use.”
‘Seek Help from Professionals’
University of California assistant professor and co-author of the study, Jason M. Nagata, emphasizes the need for further studies of eating disorders because such problems have become more prevalent and alarming, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also encouraged those experiencing symptoms of an eating disorder to seek the help of health professionals. Nagata advised clinicians to carefully screen young people for disordered eating and substance use.
The researchers asserted the need for further clinical assessment of eating disorders among college students using e-cigarettes. They also suggested that the state should implement additional policies on vape pens and e-cigarettes to protect the well-being of young people.