Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences

Committee Chair(s)

Deloy G. Hendricks


Deloy G. Hendricks


This study was conducted to determine whether a functional relationship exists between human tissue and environmental levels of chromium and/or zinc and in individuals with maturity onset diabetes.

Three counties of Utah were selected as sites:

1. Wayne County, where a State Health Department screening had shown a 12.7 percent incidence of diabetes, and, where there is very little industry, and an assumed low level of environmental chromium and zinc.

2. Utah County, where the diabetic screening had shown an 0.75 percent incidence of diabetes and where there is nearby large industry and an assumed higher level of zinc and chromium.

3. Cache County, in which the incidence of diabetes was 3 .79 percent and where there is an assumed low level of environmental zinc and chromium and very little industry.

A full three hour glucose tolerance test was carried out on 76 subjects for classification as diabetic or nondiabetic . Chromium and zinc concentrations in serum, hair, urine and tap water were determined by atomic absorption. Serum cholesterol and triglycerides were determined for all subjects. Taste acuity was also determined in each subject.

Wayne County subjects had some characteristics differing from those in Cache and Utah . The weight/ height ratio for diabetics and nondiabetics was the same. The weight/height ratio for diabetics and nondiabetics was significantly different in Utah and Cache Counties. There was no significant difference between diabetics and nondiabetics in Wayne County in the fasted glucose levels. This was not true in Cache and Utah. The blood glucose levels in diabetics was significantly lower at all intervals in Wayne diabetics than in Utah and Cache Counties.

There was a significantly lower concentration of chromium in tap water in Wayne County. Subjects from Wayne County also had the lowest tissue concentration of chromium. Tap water from Utah County had the highest concentration and the subjects from this county had the highest body tissue chromium . Concentration of chromium in body tissues was similar for diabetics and nondiabetics.

It was found that diabetics had higher serum zinc values than nondiabetics. There was no difference in the zinc values in serum in a fasting state and one hour post prandial in either diabetics or nondiabetics. Urine zinc was significantly higher in diabetics than in nondiabetics. Hair zinc concentration was similar in diabetics and nondiabetics.

The recognition of bitter and salty taste were significantly reduced in diabetics, but there were no taste differences among people from different counties.

A different diabetic patter emerged in Wayne County where water chromium levels were significantly lower and tissue chromium levels tended to be lower. It appears that although the incidence of diabetes is higher in the low chromium area (Wayne county) the severity of diabetes is less. This phenomenon requires further investigation.