Many teens dabble with vegetarianism, and the choice is usually accepted by parents as a mild form of rebellion. But a new study suggests some use vegetarianism to hide an eating disorder, Time reports. Researchers found that 20% to 25% of current and former vegetarians had engaged in binge eating or extreme dieting such as laxative pills or forced vomiting—compared to only 5% of meat eaters.
While more likely to engage in eating-disorder behaviors, vegetarians ate somewhat healthier diets and were less likely to be overweight than omnivores. Vegetarianism is a useful cloak because it is a socially acceptable reason to decline eating many foods, researchers say. They recommend that parents and doctors pay extra attention to any teen who suddenly becomes a vegetarian.