Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Howell: Influences on Nutritional Status among Alaska Native Older Adults of Anchorage, Alaska

  • Crooks, Deborah (PI)

Grants and Contracts Details


Alaska Natives experience high rates of obesity, especially in urban locations. Rates of obesity are even higher among elderly adults due to biological aging processes, diet, and physical activity patterns. This 9-month, mixed-methods research project aims to uncover the relationships between the sociocultural factors that influence diet and physical activity patterns and nutritional status outcomes of Alaska Native elders living in Anchorage utilizing biocultural anthropological theory (human adaptability) and gerontological theory (healthy aging perspectives). Previous research indicates that sociocultural influences on diet and physical activity include identification with Native culture, Native language use in the home, participation in traditional Native events, traditional subsistence skills, social contacts, and the media. Through surveys on these sociocultural influences, participant and direct observation, semi-structured interviews, food frequency questionnaires, physical activity assessments, and anthropometric measurements (height, weight, waist circumference), I will identify and evaluate the influence of sociocultural factors on dietary and physical activity patterns for a representative sample of 75 Alaska Native elders currently living in Anchorage. Through multivariate regression analyses, I will also determine the relationships between sociocultural influences on diet and physical activity and nutritional status outcomes among urban Alaska Native elders. This research will produce a more complex understanding of how nutritional status outcomes are created and contribute to the scholarship of “local biologies” that documents the health and well-being of local populations exhibiting varied biological outcomes in sociocultural context. This work can also directly inform targeted, culturally-appropriate obesity prevention programs and aging policy in the region.
Effective start/end date9/1/132/28/15


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