Date of Award

8-2015

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Plant and Soil Science

First Advisor

Lightfoot, David A.

Second Advisor

Corrucini, Robert

Third Advisor

Moon, Wanki

Abstract

Analogous to the progeny of other adversely environmental affected cultures like the post-war Dutch and the reservation Pima, today’s African American children are the most at risk for obesity and early onset of type II diabetes. The relationship between the onset of chronic diseases like obesity and diabetes to environmental social stressors has been positively correlated. The relationship between environmental impacts on quantitative trait expression is rooted in genetic fundamentals. This study considers the quasi-breeding and phenotypic selection caused by slavery, and the ensuing generations of African American commoditization, as a bottleneck factor impacting the descendants of slaves thusly affected and examines the cultural inadequacy of body mass indexing (BMI) standards towards validation of the “epidemic” of obesity related diabetes among African Americans. DNA samples, body measurements and survey data were taken from randomly selected populations of Africans and African Americans. Data were examined for correlations among; BMI components; genetic bases for thinness in metabolism; and food choices. Major findings included significant correlations between lean muscle, body fat and BMI. The four populations composed of US resident males and females of African or African American origin differed significantly for these measures. Further, food choices were better among Africans than African Americans, however, socio economic standings differed too. In conclusion, BMI was not a useful measure of fat, therefore not a useful tool to predict obesity; African American food choices were poor compared to Africans; and African American women were the group most negatively affected. African American BMI did not relate exclusively to body fat, but to an array of correlates and determinants, not found to be so in European Americans. There are different correlates and determinates of BMI and diabetes in African Americans that European Americans. Also, some aspects differ between American-born and African-born African Americans.

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