Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health


Namgyal L. Kyulo


Adolescent obesity is a serious health condition that affects more than 55% of students aged 12 to 19 years in the United States. Recent statistical data have noted that the rate of adolescent obesity has more than quadrupled during the past few decades. Genetics and factors such as tobacco use, alcohol use, and marijuana use have contributed to this critical public health issue. Although uniqueness of prevalence has often been linked to gender and race, associations related to these health risk behaviors and increased body mass index remain relatively unexplored among today’s U.S. youth. Adolescence has been described as a pivotal period in which adolescents begin to engage in risky health behaviors. Guided by the social cognitive theory, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the relationship between obesity and health risk behaviors among American high school students who participated in the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. A cross sectional quantitative design was used to analyze secondary data from the completed survey data of 1,624 high school students. Descriptive statistics, bivariate and multivariate logistic regression tests were used to analyze the data. Multivariate logistic regression results from this study detail that there were significant associations between adolescent tobacco use and obesity (OR = 1.164, 95% CI = (1.046, 1.296). Findings of this study suggest adolescent health risk behaviors associated with tobacco and alcohol use co -occur uniquely within the African American, White, and Hispanic high-school youth, in particularly those of OV/OB categorization. Initiation of culturally sensitive prevention programs are of urgency to counteract this epidemic that is affecting our vulnerable high-school aged population both within the United States and globally.