Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Anthropology



First Committee Member

Daniel Benyshek, Chair

Second Committee Member

Peter Gray

Third Committee Member

Liam Frink

Graduate Faculty Representative

Susan Meacham

Number of Pages



Compared to other North American indigenous populations, Southwest Alaskan Yupiit exhibit very low rates of type 2 diabetes despite the occurrence of common risk factors. Contemporary Yupiit obtain a substantial portion of their calories from traditional foods, which contain high amounts of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Epidemiological and experimental animal research has linked glucose and insulin homeostasis with a diet high in omega-3s. This study used an experimental animal model to explore potential diabetes protective effects (for adult offspring) of prenatal maternal nutrition modeled on traditional locally-obtained Yupiit diets. The results of this study showed that the adult offspring whose mothers consumed a diet modeled on traditional Yup’ik foods during pregnancy were more insulin sensitive (less prone to diabetes) than adult offspring whose mothers received a Western diet prenatally. These findings provide further insight into our understanding of the role that specific maternal nutrients play in programming adult metabolism and have significant implications for dietary intervention strategies aimed at preventing type 2 diabetes.


Alaskan diet; Animal studies; Developmental; Fish oils; Glucose; Gluconeogenesis; High saturated fat diets; Insulin sensitivity; Maternal blood sugar levels; Maternal diets; Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs); Prenatal maternal nutrition; Southwest Alaskan Yupiit; Type 2 diabetes; Western diet; Yup'ik


Biochemical Phenomena, Metabolism, and Nutrition | Biological and Physical Anthropology | Medical Sciences | Nutrition | Obstetrics and Gynecology

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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