Overweight girls may be more likely than other young people to develop acne

THE QUESTION Acne has no definitive cause but an array of suspects, including hormones, heredity, stress, chocolate, makeup and more. Should being overweight be added to the list?

THIS STUDY analyzed data on 3,655 teens, 18 and 19 years old. About 13 percent of the girls and 14 percent of the boys had acne. About 10 percent of the girls and 15 percent of the boys were overweight, with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher. Girls who were overweight were twice as likely as other girls to have acne. For boys, no link was found between weight and acne.

WHO MAY BE AFFECTED? Teens and young adults, who are the most likely to develop acne, though the skin condition can affect people at any age. It begins when the follicles, which connect the oil glands under the skin with the pores on the surface of the skin, become clogged. Then pimples develop. Acne usually occurs on the face, neck, back, chest and shoulders. Though not considered a serious health condition, it can result in scarring and emotional distress. Experts generally agree that chocolate and makeup do not cause acne, that stress does not cause it but might aggravate it and that hormones and heredity may play a role.

CAVEATS Data used in the study came from the teens’ responses on questionnaires.

FIND THIS STUDY January issue of Archives of Dermatology (www.archderm.com).

Teenagers from the Capitol City Public Charter school play a game of tag on the ice. On the ice is Karen Diaz, age 14 and fellow student Carlos Amaya, age 16. (Linda Davidson/THE WASHINGTON POST)

LEARN MORE ABOUT acne at www.familydoctor.org and www.aad.org (click “A” under “Dermatology A-Z”).

Linda Searing

The research described in Quick Study comes from credible, peer-reviewed journals. Nonetheless, conclusive evidence about a treatment's effectiveness is rarely found in a single study. Anyone considering changing or beginning treatment of any kind should consult with a physician.