Online Program

Body weight perception and illicit drug use among adolescents

Monday, November 4, 2013

Candice Beathard, PhD, MA, Health Management and Policy Program, School of Social and Behavioral Health Sciences, College of Public Health and Human Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Jangho Yoon, MSPH, PhD, College of Public Health and Human Sciences, Health Policy and Management Program, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR
Objective: This study tests the relationship between overweight perceptions and use of cannabis and cocaine among adolescents. Study Design: We analyze pooled cross-section data from 2005, 2007 and 2009 waves of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a biennial, nationally-representative survey of 9–12 graders in the U.S. Outcomes are dichotomous indicators separated for cannabis and cocaine use. We construct dichotomous indicators for slightly overweight perception and very overweight perception, with normal body weight perception serving as the reference category. To estimate a causal relationship, we estimate multivariate bivariate probit models in which actual weight affects drug use through perception of body weight. Dichotomous indicators for actual weight are constructed based on the age-sex-specific BMI percentile. We also examine subgroups stratified by sex. Estimates are adjusted for the complex survey design of YRBS. Results: As compared to those with normal-weight perception, adolescents with very-overweight perception are more likely to use cocaine by 5 percentage points (p > 0.001). A greater effect is found on the adolescent male subgroup (p > 0.001). Adolescents with a slightly overweight perception are less likely than those with normal weight perception to use cannabis by 3 percentage points (p > 0.001). No gender difference is found for the slightly overweight perception subsample. Conclusions: Overweight perception has a significant impact on cocaine use among adolescents. This effect is larger for adolescent males. This relationship may assist in identifying youths at a greater risk of illicit drug use.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Assess risk factors for illicit drug use among adolescents. Evaluate the link between body weight perception and illicit drug use among adolescent with a particular emphasis on causal relationship. Discuss policy and clinical implications of the identified relationship between weight perception and illicit drug use among adolescents.

Keyword(s): Weight Management, Marijuana

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a Public Health doctoral student who focuses my research on substance use and abuse, with a particular interest in cannabis policy. I have, and continue to, work closely with my dissertation chair, Dr. Jangho Yoon, on this research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.