PhD Public Health and Health Systems, 2013—2019
My dissertation assessed youth health behaviours and their relationship with weight status using a gender-specific approach. Using latent class analysis techniques, I first assessed whether there were groupings in the patterns of risk and protective health behaviours among youth. Risk behaviours included binge drinking, cigarette smoking and cannabis use. The protective behaviour I examined was physical activity. I also assessed whether these behaviours differed among males and females.
Results indicated that youth had three behavioural patterns: active youth who experimented with substances, non-active youth who were non-users of substances and youth who were not active and engaged in the highest use of substances, relative to their peers. I found that certain patterns were associated with higher odds of overweight and obesity over time and differed by gender. These differences also held true for vulnerable populations of youth, specifically those who had been victims of bullying.
My research highlights the importance of understanding behavioural patterns and developing interventions that are tailored around the co-occurrence of behaviours. Among youth, changes in one behaviour can be associated with changes in others. This knowledge will be useful in the design and implementation of school-based prevention and intervention programs. For example, there will be program components that may effectively target females and males together (e.g., promoting physical activity and preventing bullying) and others that may best target them separately (e.g., enhanced substance use prevention among males).
My time in the School of Public Health and Health Systems (SPHHS)
Some of my fondest memories in SPHHS are the many trips to the Student Life Centre for a cup of coffee or bite to eat with my committee members and fellow graduate students. These were moments where we took time for a brief walk and continued enlightening discussions that enhanced or changed our perspectives. These walks always brightened my day and showed me the importance of taking breaks and surrounding yourself with supportive and caring people.