Date of Conferral





Public Health


Scott O. McDoniel



In 2018, health statistics revealed that, despite the many preventive measures established,

cancer was the second leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause

of death in 22 states, exceeded only by heart disease. With obesity/leptin levels reaching

pandemic levels worldwide, and cancer having a well-known association with obesity,

both chronic diseases represent a large proportion of public health challenges. Guided by

the social ecological model, the purpose of this cross-sectional, quantitative study was to

examine if a significant difference exists in leptin levels among adults with different

types of obesity-associated and common cancers and those without cancer. Further, using

secondary data from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the

correlation of cancer risk factors with leptin levels among a multiethnic sample of adults

living in the United States was also examined. ANCOVA and multiple linear regression

analysis revealed that a significant difference exists in leptin levels among individuals

with different types of cancer. A correlation also exists between cancer risk factors and

leptin levels in adults with different types of cancer. The results further revealed that

those with cancer had higher leptin levels than those without cancer after adjusting for

related covariates. Health professional and educators worldwide working together to

increase awareness and health literacy to empower not only the current study population,

but all populations in adopting healthier lifestyles that will hopefully aid in reducing the

risk, incidence, and mortality rates of obesity and cancer at the individual, community,

societal and national levels may ultimately lead to positive social change.