Date of Conferral





Public Health


Namgyal Kyulo


Childhood obesity is disproportionately higher among children from Hispanic backgrounds. Ethnicity is a social and cultural construct and does not capture true ancestral heterogeneity. Hispanic Americans have a wide variety of genetic admixture proportions of European (EUR), Native American (AMR), and African (AFR) ancestry. The objective of this cross-sectional study was to assess the contribution of ancestral genetic composition to body mass index (BMI), and to evaluate the relationship of obesity risk factors to BMI among 154 2-year-old Hispanic American children. The theory of Evolutionary Developmental Biology was utilized to investigate the relationship between children's growth process and ancestral background. Their genetic admixture was estimated using the ancestry and kinship toolkit and BMI was calculated and evaluated using the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) BMI charts. Three simple linear regressions assessed the association between standard EUR, AMR, and AFR to BMI. A backward, stepwise, linear regression was performed to evaluate the influence of sex, birth weight, and juice consumption frequency as well as mother's age, BMI, education, and region of birth on the child's BMI. No associations were found between BMI and genetic admixture proportion, and the regression model revealed that only birth weight was positively associated with BMI; higher maternal education was negatively associated with BMI. Contrary to adulthood obesity studies, EUR, AMR, and AFR proportions were not associated with BMI at age 2, which suggests that the influence of genetic composition on BMI may vary by age. This information has the potential to create positive social change by developing preventions that target modifiable risk factors, such as maternal education.

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