Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


Chester Jones


Screened media platforms have been blamed for contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic. The purpose of this study was to determine if leisure computer usage, such as engaging in social media, impacted perceived body weight, dietary habits, and physical activity. The social network theory and the social cognitive theory were the theoretical frameworks of this cross-sectional study using secondary data. The data set used was the 2015 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey including a sample size of 8,241 youths between Grades 9 and 12. Chi-square test and binary logistic regression analysis were performed to determine leisure computer usage and perceived body weight, diet, and physical activity. It was found that 58.72% of youths spend 2 hours or more per day on leisure computer activities. As youths spent more time on the computer for leisure activities, their perception of how slightly/very overweight they were steadily increased by 30.4% and 38.4% for students who spent 2 and 5 hours, respectively, on daily leisure computer activities. Youths who spent 2 hours or more per day on leisure computer activities had a higher percentage of below-average overall scores for both dietary and physical activity habits (52.9% and 50.10% respectively). The results of the study showed that leisure-time computer usage affects perception of weight and dietary and physical activity habits among youth. The findings of this study have implications for social change in support of public health campaigns to help promote positive behaviors in youth, such as proper body image, and dietary and physical activity habits.