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Adolescent obesity and future substance use: Incorporating the psychosocial context

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A growing body of work has shown that obese adolescents are at risk of engaging in problematic substance use, but mixed findings highlight the complexity of the relationship. Incorporating the psychosocial context into this research may inform past discrepancies. The current study assessed whether obese adolescents had a higher likelihood of experiencing a psychosocial context that predicted problematic substance use in young adulthood. Latent class analysis on 10,637 adolescents from The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) identified four psychosocial classes in adolescence: Adjusted, Deviant Peer/Victimization, Moderate Depression, and Maladjusted. Obese adolescents were more likely to belong to the Maladjusted class, characterized by higher levels of depression and deviant peer affiliation. Those in the Maladjusted class had the second highest levels of cigarette smoking and marijuana use in young adulthood. Obese adolescents' psychosocial context should be considered in future research linking obesity and substance use.

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