Extreme Dieting Linked to Suicide Among Teens in South Korea

David Lee, Oct. 10, 2016, 9:48 a.m.


Teenagers who engage in extreme dieting are exposed to greater suicide risks, a study shows. Researchers at Yonsei University in Seoul said on Monday that children in middle and high school who were obsessed with dieting, fasting, or binge eating, and the use of unprescribed medication are twice more likely to commit suicide than those on a normal diet. 



The study’s result came after they had reviewed the previous survey from the Minister of Health and Welfare in 2014, which surveyed around 70,000 middle and high school students here who were on a diet. 

The research team first divided the group of the surveyed participants into two groups. One had what the researchers described as a “normal diet” with regular exercise, prescribed weight loss pills and “one food diets,” in which the dieter only eats one kind of food. The diet methods of the other group included 24-hour fasting and unprescribed pills that caused vomiting and diuretic effect. 

The second group showed a higher probability of contemplating or attempting suicide than the first group, the study showed. 

The male subjects in the second group who were not eating for 24 hours or more turned out to be 1.7 times more likely to have suicidal thoughts and 1.8 times more to attempt suicide. 

For the girls, the difference was even higher: Those on extreme diets were 2.2 times more likely to commit suicide, the study revealed. 

Professor Park Eun-cheol who led the research attributed the result to “side effects regarding anxiety, decreased concentration and mood swings that are caused by unhealthy diets.” He added that “psychological problems and eating disorders seem to be the cause of the bad choices.” 

The researchers published their findings in the Korean Academy of Medical Sciences journal. 

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