Pimples popping relentlessly? Perhaps it’s time to lose some kilos: Teenage girls who are overweight are twice as likely to develop acne than their leaner peers, a new Norwegian study suggests.

In this study published in the Archives of Dermatology recently, the relationship between weight and breakouts was examined in 3600 teenagers, aged 18 or 19.  Other variables such as ethnicity, mental distress, drinking, smoking and dietary habits (in particular sugar, sweets, chocolate, raw vegetables, fatty fish and potato chips) that could potentially play a role were also factored in.

While weight gain and moderate to severe acne — one of the most common and emotionally disturbing skin problems that affects up to one in five teenagers — go hand in hand among the young ladies, overweight boys seem to be spared according to this study. But a previous Taiwanese study has demonstrated higher prevalence of acne in schoolboys with higher BMI.

The reason for the link is not entirely clear, but scientists believe that the excess androgens (male hormones) caused by obesity triggers acne.

There’s growing interest in possible the association between correctable lifestyle factors like diet and body weight with acne, especially when more and more are falling prey to the obesity epidemic today. However, further research is still needed to confirm whether paring off the excess pounds will put a stop to the pimple pop-out.

In the meantime, sufferers of chronic breakouts should seek medical help early, since a wide range of effective treatment options are now available to keep acne under control and prevent potentially permanent complications like scarring.


– By Claudia Lin