Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2019

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Barbara Demmig Adams



Previous research has addressed the relationship between social issues and chronic disease, and how chronic disease is more prevalent in minority communities due to a long history of social inequality. Social inequality is caused by racial discrimination that leads to socioeconomic and educational inequality, all of which reduce access to a health-promoting lifestyle choices and result in physiological impairments (such as chronic inflammation) and disease. My thesis is a comprehensive literature review and summarizes lifestyle choices affected by specific aspects of social disparities and the health disparities they cause. In particular, I identified links between social issues and sleep habits, dietary practices, and physical activity level. I furthermore provide recommendations on how sleep management and relaxation, an anti-inflammatory diet, and regular moderate physical activity can support wellness. It is my hope that an improved understanding of the role of specific lifestyle choices in wellness promotion –and the powerful synergy created by combining baby steps towards improved sleep, diet, and physical activity – will provide simple, cost-effective solutions accessible to people irrespective of race, socioeconomic status, and education level.