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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Fall 2016

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Mosher, M.J. (Anthropologist)

Second Advisor

Stevenson, Joan C.

Third Advisor

Landis, Wayne G.


Nutrition directly shapes phenotype and genetic health, therefore playing a central role in determining health outcomes and disease trajectories. Chronic health problems and nutritional deficits have been rapidly escalating globally as nutritional deficiencies continue to accelerate the onset of illness and suffering. Vitamin D deficiency for example is causative in many pathophysiological disease and metabolic conditions while correction of deficient levels is known to treat cancer and reduce cardio-metabolic risks. Despite the bio-social origins and explicit connections between nutrition and health, explanations remain contentious at best. Enhanced diagnostic and nutritional epidemiological approaches are required in order to delineate any ambiguities. Serving as a follow up study by biological anthropological into notable longevity among the Kansas Mennonite, The Kansas Nutrition Project (KNP) explores the effects of nutrition and genetics on chronic health. Nutrients and their cellular receptors interact with genes coding for hormones, particularly adiponectin and leptin. Recent studies show vitamin D influences normal levels of adiponectin and leptin both in healthy and unhealthy populations with research benefiting from cross-cultural and population level studies. Mennonite populations of Kansas have experienced several instances of differential bottlenecks and founder effects during their migration histories across Europe and the Americas while maintaining cultural and religious independence. The reliability of working within population isolates in anthropological and epidemiological research is well supported, with linear relationships increasing with increasing population homogeneity. Combining measures of nutritional intake and diagnostic biomarkers, this thesis investigates the relationships between nutritional intake and measures of adiponectin and leptin within a population of semi-isolate Kansas Mennonite. Using data from the KNP, I construct sex-specific multivariate models of nutritional intake and hormone variation using anthropological and epidemiological rationale. Investigations include the relationships between nutritional intake with adipose traits and micronutrient intake on circulating hormone phenotypes. Operating within a sex-specific and nutrient-gene interaction framework, I predict lipophilic nutrients like vitamins A, D and E may be significant in adiponectin and leptin variation. Results show statistically significant (p < 0.05) variation between females and males in almost all categories of variables including anthropometrics, blood lipids, serum adiponectin and leptin and nutritional intake within a representative sample of semi-isolate of Kansas Mennonite. Vitamin D intake was significant in adiponectin and leptin variation in men but not women, while folate was significant in leptin level in women but not men.





Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Phenotype; Mennonites--Kansas--Genetics; Mennonites--Nutrition--Kansas; Mennonites--Health aspects--Kansas

Geographic Coverage





masters theses




Copying of this document in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this thesis for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author's written permission.

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