Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

William M. Bass

Committee Members

Mary Ann Bass, Richard L. Jantz, Francis S. Jones, John B. Gregg


Anthropometric measurements of height, weight, and triceps skinfold were obtained from 266 Eastern Band Cherokee Indian youths ages 13-17. The data were compared to the United States national probability sample from the National Center for Health Statistics (HES), to a sample of American Indians from Minnesota, and to data on Whites from the Ten-State Nutrition Survey. The data were also examined for age, sex, and degree of Indian blood effects.

Differences between the Cherokee and Blacks and Whites from the HES sample were tested by a Bonferroni Post Hoc examination of means. There were no significant differences for height, but differences were significant for 9 of 16 comparisons of weight and for all 16 comparisons of triceps skinfold means.

Compared to the Minnesota Indian sample, the Cherokee are heavier and have thicker skinfold. Height values are essentially the same. The difference in skinfold values is greater between the males than between the females.

The Cherokee economic status is reported as poor and examination of the effect of economic status on growth was undertaken by comparing the Cherokee data on Whites from the Ten-State Nutrition Survey. The Cherokee have higher values for triceps skinfold with the differences being greater for the males than for the females. The Cherokee males are taller, and the females are similar in height but heavier than their age and sex peers from the Ten-State Survey sample.

An analysis of variance, using the General Linear Models Procedure was carried out to examine the effect of age, sex, and degree of Indian blood on growth. The females exceed the males in height, weight, and triceps skinfold values at age 13, but thereafter the males exceed the females in height and weight. The decrease in fatfold measurements for males after age 14 is concomitant with their growth spurt. The males show a greater trend toward a decrease in height with an increase in degree of Indian blood at age 13, and this trend and sex difference is most apparent at age 16. Also, at age 16, the sex difference decreases as the degree of Indian blood increases. The skewness values for height and triceps skinfold were not significant, but were for weight at ages 15 and 16 for the males and at ages 14-16 for the females. The relationship of weight to degree of Indian blood is significant. At ages 13 and 16, the sex difference is greater for those having between 0 and 1/4 percent Indian blood. At ages 14-16 there is a decrease in sex differences as the degree of Indian blood increases.

The Cherokee tend to be similar in height to Blacks, Whites, and Minnesota Indians. They are significantly heavier than their Black and White age and sex peers, and tend to be somewhat heavier than the Minnesota sample. The Cherokee difference in triceps skinfold is twofold. They have much greater fatfold values than their White, Black, and Minnesota peers, and they demonstrate considerably less sex differences in their fatfold measurements than their counterparts in the other three groups.

There is a close relationship between obesity and maturity-onset diabetes, and, though heredity is a factor, the stress of obesity can be a precipitating factor to the onset. A high percent of adult Cherokee demonstrate maturity-onset diabetes with concomitant vascular complications, infections, and neuropathies. Findings from the data collected in this study suggest that obesity may be a greater problem for the Cherokee than for Blacks and Whites. Comparison of nutrient intake and activity level with other groups might help clarify obesity trends seen in this study.

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