Thesis Defense Announcement

The College of Arts and Sciences announces the Final Thesis Defense of

Andrew Paladino

for the Degree of Master of Science

April 2, 2018 at 10:00 AM in Room 357, Psychology Building

Advisor: Idia Thurston

Weight Self-Stigma and Drug Use among Young Adults: Examining Sexual Orientation as a Moderator

ABSTRACT:Among young adults weight self-stigma is associated with negative outcomes. Similarly, young adults who identify as sexual minorities are more likely to experience psychopathology, as a result of minority stress. Drug use specifically has been identified as a maladaptive stress coping mechanism. Despite a sizeable body of research examining the relationship between WSS and psychological outcomes, studies have not explored whether sexual orientation contributes to the relationship between weight self-stigma and drug use. Recruiting from Amazon Mechanical Turk and a Midsouth university sample, we surveyed young adults about depressive symptoms, weight self-stigma, substance use, and sexual orientation. Participants completed a battery of measures including the Drug Use Identification Test, Weight Self-Stigma Questionnaire, Center for Epidemiological Studies- Depression Scale, and a demographic questionnaire. Sexual orientation was examined as a moderator between self-stigma and drug use, with subjective BMI, gender, race, socioeconomic status, and depressive symptoms as covariates. A total of 568 young adults completed the study. The covariate-adjusted moderation model significantly predicted drug use disorder symptoms. The interaction between sexual orientation and self-stigma was significant (p<.02), such that for sexual minority youth there was a significant positive effect of self-stigma on drug use, while for heterosexual youth the effect was not significant. Sexual minority youth who experience weight self-stigma have high rates of drug use relative to their heterosexual counterparts. These results suggest that the compounded stigma associated with being a sexual minority and experiencing internalized weight stigma is related to drug use problems.