Age-Varying Associations Between Attempts to Lose Weight and Nicotine Vaping Across Adolescence: Results From a Nationally Representative Sample

  • Anna K. Hochgraf
    Address correspondence to: Anna K. Hochgraf, Ph.D., Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, The University of Minnesota, 1300 South 2nd Street, Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55431.
    Department of Human Development and Family Studies, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania

    Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, The University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
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  • Gregory M. Fosco
    Department of Human Development and Family Studies, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania

    The Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania
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  • Stephanie T. Lanza
    The Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania

    Department of Biobehavioral Health, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania
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      The prevalence of nicotine vaping is increasing among adolescents and emerging evidence suggests weight concerns may promote risk for vaping. The aims of this study were to investigate whether there is an association between attempting to lose weight and nicotine vaping during adolescence, when this association emerges and is strongest, and whether there are sex differences in this link.


      This study used time-varying effect modeling, an analytic method that estimates regression coefficients as a continuous function of age, to model dynamic associations between weight loss behavior and nicotine vaping across adolescence and sex differences in these links. Data were from 13,677 adolescents (aged 14–18 years, 49.4% female) who participated in the 2019 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a nationally representative U.S. sample.


      Results revealed an age-varying association that differed by sex. Girls who were trying to lose weight were at a higher risk for past 30-day vaping from ages 14.2–15.9 years, with the strongest association at 14.8 years (odds ratio [OR] = 1.92, 95% confidence interval [CI] [1.25, 2.95]). For boys, this association was nonsignificant across age (OR = 1.76, 95% CI [0.91, 3.41] at age 14.0 years). Girls who were trying to lose weight were at a higher risk for frequent vaping (vaping on 20–30 of the past 30 days) from ages 15.2–17.1 years, with the strongest association at 16.1 years (OR = 2.59, 95% CI [1.45, 4.62]). This link was not meaningfully significant at any age for boys (OR = 3.26, 95% CI [0.86, 12.33] at age 14.0 years).


      Girls, but not boys, who are trying to lose weight appear vulnerable to nicotine vaping during adolescence.


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