Date of Conferral





Public Health


Howell Sasser


Despite an increasing number of healthy lifestyles throughout the country, Americans, including Native Hawaiians, keep gaining weight. Unlike several American lifestyles that have resulted in weight gain within the American population, the vegetarian lifestyle is a scientifically proven method for decreasing body weight and maintaining the weight loss for more than 1 year. This study aimed to compare the lifestyle patterns of 4 vegetarian lifestyles and 1 nonvegetarian lifestyle among Native Hawaiians aged 21 and older using their body mass index (BMI). This quantitative study utilized a correlational design, which is particularly suitable for examining the relationship of BMI to eating lifestyle and such variables as physical activity. A survey with 18 questions was administered to participants (n = 300) who have chosen a specific lifestyle and have been following this lifestyle for 1 year or more. The main research question investigated the difference in the body weight of Native Hawaiians aged 21 and older who followed and maintained a vegan, lacto-ovo vegetarian, semivegetarian, or nonvegetarian diet. Participants' BMI was affected by the factors of age, self-efficacy, disease status (high blood pressure, no health risks), and eating habits (Vegetarian Lifestyle Scale). While the Vegetarian Lifestyle Scale was a significant predictor of BMI, there was no significant difference in the effect of the 2 lifestyle classifications of nonvegetarian and vegetarian on BMI, after controlling for other relevant factors. This study aimed to effect social change in the Native Hawaiian community by demonstrating the health benefits of a plant-based diet and better informing public health officials to guide their development of more effective nutrition and weight loss programs for Native Hawaiians.