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Risk Factors for Acne Severity in Teenage Girls

Acne is one of the most common chronic dermatological issues among adolescents, and overweight girls in their late teens were twice as likely as their normal-weight peers to report having a lot of acne. This makes being overweight one of the factors that is pinpointed to cause acne, particularly in teenaged girls.

These findings come from a large data-collection study to analyze the relationship between Body Mass Index (BMI) and acne prevalence and severity. The study did not find the same link in boys.

The young people surveyed were aged 18 to 19 and provided information on their pimples, weight, diet and other health and lifestyle factors.
Only about a tenth of the girls and 15 percent of the boys fell into the overweight or obese categories, based on their body mass index (a measure of weight relative to height).

But among the overweight and obese girls, 19 percent said they had experienced a lot of acne in the past week, compared to 13 percent of normal-weight girls who reported recent acne. When the researchers took into account other potential influences, such as diet, smoking and “mental distress,” they determined that overweight and obese girls were twice as likely to have acne.

Among the boys, acne afflicted about 14 percent of the studied group, regardless of weight.

In general, researchers say between 10 percent and 20 percent of adolescents experience moderate to severe acne. Many studies have documented the emotional and social difficulties that go along with the problem, especially during the sensitive teen years.

With a growing number of teens becoming overweight and obese - a circumstance that carries its own social stigma - the investigating team based in Norway wanted to study whether there’s a connection between the two.

Because the pattern was confined to girls, it is also highly possible that polycystic ovarian syndrome can explain some of the study’s findings, making it another risk factor for acne severity in teenage girls. Polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition whose cause is poorly understood but symptoms include too-high levels of male hormones, and often manifest in both obesity and acne.

Lastly, genetics are also considered important in the development of acne and in addition, the role of nutrition cannot be ruled out with some evidence from other studies showing that poor diets do contribute to acne.


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