Substance Use Epidemiology (2012-2014)


Development of Childhood Obesity
and High-risk Behavior Engagement
in Adolescence

David Huang, Dr.P.H., Principal Investigator
(yhuang@ucla.edu)
M. Douglas Anglin, Ph.D., & Kynna Wright-Volel, Ph.D., Co-Investigators
H. Isabella Lanza, Ph.D., Project Director

Childhood obesity and high-risk behaviors in adolescence (e.g., illicit drug use and delinquency) are major social issues facing the nation.  Childhood obesity is associated with many and various adverse health and psychological consequences (e.g., asthma and low self-esteem).  Developmental trajectories of childhood obesity and their relationship to the incidence of both concurrent and subsequent problem behaviors, especially in adolescence, have not yet been well established, in large part because prospective longitudinal studies are rarely available.  Yet systematic examination of developmental patterns of obesity in children and a better understanding of the relationship of such patterns to problem behaviors have important implications for improving youth intervention programs for a variety of problematic behaviors.  Using the child sample initially identified in the 1979 National Longitudinal Study of Youth (NLSY79), this research project aimed to increase knowledge of the developmental trajectories of obesity and examine relations between childhood obesity and risk behaviors in late adolescence/young adulthood. The highlighted findings from the study are as follows. (1) Four obesity trajectories, labeled as “Chronically obese”, “Decreasing”, “Increasing”, and “Non-obese,” were identified. Obese adolescents were at risk for poor psychosocial status and problem behaviors, particularly increased cigarette smoking. Adolescents moving into obesity status during adolescence were more likely to experience poor psychosocial health. (2) Prenatal and childhood experiences were related to the development of adolescent obesity, and such factors operate at different life stages and yield different magnitudes of influence on obesity status in adolescence. Maternal smoking during pregnancy, higher maternal weight, lower maternal education, and lack of infant breastfeeding were contributors to elevated obesity risk in early adolescence. Appropriate use of family rules in the home and parental engagement in children’s daily activities lowered adolescent obesity risk. (3) Adolescents’ substance use was associated with subsequent obesity risk in young adulthood.  Associations appeared to differ based on types and patterns of reported substance use. Adolescent cigarette smoking and marijuana use were associated with an increased vulnerability to obesity risk in young adulthood.

The following publications are from this study:

Huang, D.Y.C., Lanza, H.I., & Anglin, M.D. (2014).  Trajectory of adolescent obesity: Exploring the impact of prenatal to childhood experiences.  Journal of Child and Family Studies, 23(6), 1090-1101.  NIHMS: 481609.

Huang, D.Y.C., Lanza, H.I., Wright-Volel, K. & Anglin, M.D. (2013).  Developmental trajectories of childhood obesity and risk behaviors in adolescence.  Journal of Adolescence, 36, 139-148.  PMCID: PMC3530618. NIHMS: 422091.

Huang, D.Y.C., Lanza, H.I., & Anglin, M.D. (2013).  Association between adolescent substance use and obesity in young adulthood: A group-based dual trajectory analysis.  Addictive Behaviors, 38, 2653-2660. PMCID: PMC3777808. NIHMS: 510476.  

Development of Childhood Obesity and High-risk Behavior Engagement in Adolescence was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, grant 1 R03 HD064619, from December 2010 to November 2012.


Obesity and Substance Use:
Identifying Pathways and Processes
in Adolescence/Young Adulthood

Isabella Lanza, Ph.D., Principal Investigator

This study addressed two critical public health problems, adolescent obesity and substance use in young adulthood, with the aim of identifying the pathways and processes by which adolescent obesity may increase risk of more problematic substance use in young adulthood, thus informing prevention and intervention efforts for mitigating problematic substance use among young adults. Using The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), the project  evaluated the utility of the adolescent social-psychological context (social status, deviant peer affiliation, and psychosocial maladjustment) as an explanatory mechanism of co-occurring adolescent obesity and substance use in young adulthood. Identifying specific pathways and processes by which obesity and substance use are linked will discern which subgroup(s) of obese adolescents are at highest risk for more problematic substance use in young adulthood, potentially leading to improved efforts in targeting vulnerable populations in need of substance use prevention and intervention services.

Obesity and Substance Use: Identifying Pathways and Processes in Adolescence/Young Adulthood was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, grant 5 R03 DA033497, from September 2012 through May 2015.


Systems Approach to Modeling of Drug Use Recovery

Yih-Ing Hser, Ph.D., subaward Principal Investigator (yhser@ucla.edu)

The aim of this project was to build an agent-based model that describes heroin use and recovery trajectories in the context of complex interconnections with current treatment practices, recovery-oriented services, and the illicit drug market. The resulting model will be used to address questions about the optimal combination and staging of treatment approaches and to explore whether some combinations could lead to qualitative (e.g., cessation) rather than simply quantitative (e.g., delayed relapse) changes in recovery process.

Systems Approach to Modeling of Drug Use Recovery was funded by RTI International, Inc., grant 1 R21 DA032670, from May 2012 through August 2013.

 

Last Updated:  08/10/2015

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