Dietary patterns of akwesasne mohawk adolescents

Julia Ravenscroft, Lawrence M. Schell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Native American youth have greater rates of overweight/obesity than same-aged youth from the general population. Even though dietary shifts are suspected, surprisingly little information exists concerning the dietary patterns of contemporary Native American adolescents. Aim: This study examines the dietary composition of Native American adolescents residing in upstate New York at the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation. The goal of this investigation is to assess the food patterns of Akwesasne adolescents via a total diet approach. Participants/setting and methods: The sample is comprised of 246 Mohawk adolescents between the ages of 10-16.9 years of age residing at the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation. Food frequency data was collected from adolescents via interview during a cross-sectional study investigating their exposure to environmental pollutants. Results and conclusion: Nutrient-dilute but energy-dense foods characterize most of the top 10 dietary sources of energy, carbohydrates, and fat. Although micronutrient intakes are by and large adequate in the sample, micronutrients are most often derived from highly fortified food sources. Adolescent diets contain few naturally-occurring sources of many micronutrients, especially folate and iron. A narrow variety of foods dominate the top dietary sources across both macronutrient and micronutrients, strongly suggesting the need for increased dietary diversity within this age group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-414
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of Human Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The sample is comprised of 271 Mohawk adolescents between the ages of 10–16.9 years of age who participated in the community-based study ‘‘PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and the wellbeing of Mohawk youth’’ (MAWBS) funded by NIEHS between 1995–2000 as part of the Superfund Basic Research Program. Detailed descriptions of recruitment and sampling are reported in previously published work (Schell et al., 2003). At the time of recruitment, general informed consent information and the aims of the project were explained to potential participants by Mohawk data collection staff. All data collection staff and research staff signed a confidentiality agreement in which they guaranteed to protect the identity and confidentiality of all participants. One youth per household was eligible to participate in the project. If more than one youth within the age range of interest resided in the household, data collectors approached the oldest first. As the youths were less than 17 years of age, informed consent was gained from the mothers of each youth and written assent to participate was gained from the youths themselves. Youths were not eligible to participate in the project if they had been hospitalized due to serious brain injury or had a diagnosis of serious organic psychological pathology or Foetal Alcohol Syndrome/Foetal Alcohol Effects. These exclusion criteria were primarily intended to control for confounding in the investigation of PCB exposure and cognitive development, one of the larger research aims of the overall project.

Funding Information:
The project was funded by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences grant S04913 and ES10904, and also National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, National Institutes of Health 1 P20 MD003373. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not represent the official views of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities or the National Institutes of Health.


  • adolescents
  • diet composition
  • environmental contamination
  • native Americans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Physiology
  • Aging
  • Genetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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