Among Mexican origin teenagers, anxiety is associated with cigarette experimentation, while among girls and young women from other ethnic groups the desire to be thin is associated with smoking. However, little is known about the associations of body image concerns with smoking in Mexican origin youth, particularly when accounting for anxiety.
In 2005-06, 1,328 Mexican origin adolescents aged 11 to 13 years enrolled in a cohort study to examine non-genetic and genetic factors associated with cigarette experimentation. In 2008-09, 1,154 participants completed a follow-up when they reported their smoking status, anxiety and body image. Height and weight were measured. In 2010-11, 1,001 participants completed another follow-up when they reported their smoking status. Multivariate multinomial regression models were computed to examine associations between smoking behavior assessed in 2010-11 and body image score, anxiety, and body mass index (BMI) assessed in 2008-09, controlling for gender, country of birth, age, and parental education.
Of the 892 participants with complete data, 48% were boys, 74% were US-born and in 2008-09, were 14.29 years (SD=1.00) old. Having smoked less than a whole cigarette was associated with being male (OR=1.53), older age (OR=1.42), a BMI <85th percentile (OR=1.93) and poor body image (OR=1.12). Having smoked more than one cigarette was associated with being male (OR=3.54), older age (OR=1.86), anxiety (OR=1.04), and poor body image (OR=1.11).
Poor body image and anxiety were independently associated with cigarette experimentation among Mexican origin youth. Implications for the design of culturally appropriate smoking prevention messages are discussed.