The prevalence of obesity may be lower among drug-dependent individuals, particularly in those dependent on opioids, compared with the general population, according to a study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

The study included participants with opioid and/or stimulant dependence from 6 clinical trials within the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (n=1596). Participants were compared with age-, sex-, and race-matched National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey participants using standardized prevalence ratios (SPRs). Logistic regression was used to estimate associations between the type of drug dependence and obesity.

The standardized obesity prevalence among study participants with drug dependence was 67% of expected for matched participants (SPR, 0.67; 95% CI, 0.60-0.74). Individuals with an opioid-only dependence had the lowest prevalence for obesity (SPR, 0.36 [95% CI, 0.27-0.46] compared with control individuals, and SPR [0.33; 95% CI, 0.23-0.46] compared with individuals with a stimulant-only dependence).

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After controlling for age, sex, race, education, and employment status, the odds of obesity were 67% lower among participants with an opioid-only dependence (adjusted odds ratio, 0.33; 95% CI, 0.23-0.46) and 33% lower among participants with a dependence to both opioids and stimulants (adjusted odds ratio, 0.67; 95% CI, 0.49-0.90) compared with participants with a dependence on stimulants only (P <.0001).

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“Investigations of the relationships between eating behaviors and [substance use disorder] would also have meaningful implications for the treatment of [substance use disorder] and obesity in the population [with substance use disorder],” wrote the study authors.

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Hu L, Matthews A, Shmueli-Blumberg D, et al. Prevalence of obesity for opioid- and stimulant-dependent participants in substance use treatment clinical trials. Drug Alcohol Depend. 190;2018:255-262.