The association between indoor tanning and such disorders may be even stronger for male than female adolescents, it added.

"In addition to being a major risk factor for melanoma, indoor tanning might identify a group of teens at increased risk of eating disorders," said David C Schwebel of University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Analyzing the data on nearly 27,000 high school students in US, the researchers found that about 23 percent of females and 6.5 percent of males reported indoor tanning within the past year.

For older teenagers, indoor tanning was even more common: 33 percent of females and 11 percent of males aged 18 years or older.

Females who used indoor tanning were 20 percent more likely to report fasting, 40 percent more likely to report vomiting or taking laxatives, and more than twice as likely to report taking weight-loss pills, powders, or liquids, the study added. Such a tendency is even stronger among the male students who used indoor tanning.

The survey also confirms earlier evidence linking indoor tanning to negative body image. Thus, females who used indoor tanning were more likely to perceive themselves as normal weight, yet more likely to say they were trying to lose weight.

"Poor body image is associated with both indoor tanning behaviour and eating disorder behaviours," Schwebel added in a study published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.


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