Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


Aimee Ferraro


Drug use and obesity are two of the most challenging health-related issues that young people face. Obesity, substance abuse, and drug addiction lead to brain dysfunction, which can decrease the quality of life and academic performance as well as increase the vulnerability of developing chronic diseases. To date, there has been little research to determine whether sexual orientation influences the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and methamphetamine use. Focusing on youth, the relationship between BMI, methamphetamine use, and sexual orientation were examined in this study through secondary data analysis of the Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance System in Chicago. Guided by Bandura’s social cognitive theory, this quantitative cross-sectional study, used Fisher’s exact test and multiple linear regression to understand the relationship between BMI and methamphetamine use by sexual orientation. The findings revealed that there was no significant association between BMI and methamphetamine use among Chicago youth; however, there were significant results when a moderating variable was introduced to the equation. The results indicated that BMI significantly predicted methamphetamine use, sexual orientation significantly predicted methamphetamine use, and a significant relationship was found between BMI and methamphetamine use when sexual orientation was included as a moderating variable. The findings of this study could contribute to social change by encouraging the promotion of a wider range of health services to youth (including sexual minorities) as a result of interventions, thus reducing drug addiction and obesity, and bringing about positive changes in the health status of youth.