Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Kevin J. Pearson

Second Advisor

Dr. Howard Glauert


Obesity is an ever-growing concern in the developed world that carries with it a plethora of health issues. For example, obesity increases an individual’s risk for Type 2 Diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Pregnancy is a vital time for a woman to maintain optimal health, both for her own benefit as well as that of her offspring, and yet almost half of women in the United States who are of age to bear children are overweight or obese. In mice, we found that offspring born to dams fed a high fat diet did not have impaired glucose tolerance, contrary to our hypothesis. In addition, we challenged the offspring with a high fat diet, and found no difference in glucose tolerance as a result of maternal diet. Exercise is at the opposite end of the wellness spectrum – individuals who exercise experience many health benefits. Even overweight or obese individuals who exercise without losing weight have improved insulin sensitivity, for example. Studies have previously used voluntary running and found that offspring born to exercised dams have improved glucose tolerance. With the goal of controlling variable running times and distances, we developed a novel model of controlled exercise and have shown that it is a safe intervention that warrants further study. In addition, many individuals choose to take dietary supplements for various reasons. Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) are a common dietary supplement that have been shown to increase lean mass, and may be implicated in glucose metabolism. We supplemented female mice with BCAAs for 16 weeks and found that exercise plus BCAAs improved body composition compared to sedentary control-diet fed animals, when exercise alone did not. In summary, we herein explore a number of health behaviors in female mice, both negative treatments such as consumption of a high fat diet and positive interventions such as exercise and BCAA supplementation, and the impact that they may have on the female animal and/or her offspring.