Honors Program

University Honors

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

W. Andrew Clark

Thesis Professor Department

Allied Health Sciences

Thesis Reader(s)

Eileen Cress, Deborah Dotson


This study was designed to compare the fatty acid and fruit and vegetable intake of people with and without periodontal disease. Periodontal disease affects approximately 15 percent of the developed world population. Participants filled out a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) for both fruit and vegetable and fat intake. A sample of whole blood (EDTA) was collected to determine the fatty acid profile of participants’ red blood cell (RBC) membrane. This analytical procedure determines the average fatty acid intake of the participant over the previous 90 to 120 days. Participants were classified as case (n=10, patients diagnosed with periodontal disease) or control group (n=10, patients without periodontal disease). Our hypothesis was that the case group would have higher fat intake and lower fruit and vegetable intake, with lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids and higher levels of omega-6 fatty acids in the RBC membrane. FFQ results indicated that case participants consumed significantly higher amounts of total fat (109.02 vs. 94.46g/d; p= .05), saturated fat (35.102 vs. 28.242g/d; p= .033) and their diets had a higher percentage of total dietary fat (38.73% vs. 34.99%; p=.044). FFQ for fruit and vegetable intake showed no significance between the case and control groups (4.41 vs. 4.56 servings/d; p=.871). For the most part, there were no significant differences between the percent composition of the individual fatty acids isolated from the RBC membrane or in ratios of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid groups as determined by RBC fatty acid analysis. Results indicated a numerically lower intake of omega-3 fatty acids in the case than in the control group. Likewise, there was a numerically higher intake of omega-6 fatty acids in the case group. These numbers demonstrate a trend towards the hypothesis being correct and patients with periodontal disease consuming more omega-6 fatty acids and less omega-3 fatty acids.

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Withheld

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