The Influence Of Diabetes In Native Americans

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Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce adequate amounts of insulin, or does not properly use the insulin that it does produce. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar. These two different issues concerning insulin are categorized into two separate types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is when the body does not produce enough insulin, type 2 diabetes is when the body does not use the insulin it does make properly. Diabetes is a life altering disease that affects people all across the United States. It is estimated that currently there are around 29 million people in the United States who currently have diabetes, and there’s and estimated 1.4 million more who are diagnosed each year. It’s estimated …show more content…
African Americans, Mexican Americans, American Indians, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans have a higher risk for these deadly diseases. According to the US National Library of Medicine, “The prevalence of diabetes is highest among Native Americans”. This is interesting because less than a century ago, diabetes was essentially nonexistent in Native American communities. It was not until the mid 1950’s that diabetes cases began to be reported. In fact, a century ago, all chronic diseases, including diabetes, were practically nonexistent in Native Americans. American Indians currently have the highest diabetes prevalence rates of all racial and ethnic groups in the US. More than 16% of the members of the Native American population have been diagnosed, compared to 8.7% of non-Hispanic whites. As a member of the native American community and one who has a family history of diabetes, these statistics are extremely alarming, and it makes me question my current health choices and my possible eventual diagnosis. It also makes me question whether my health choices can help prevent diabetes or if I’m genetically predisposition to a …show more content…
Some nutritionists and scientists attribute this to the loss of Native traditional diet and lifestyle. Historically, Native American’s traditional diet included a well-rounded diet of wild game and freshly grown food. Also, traditional Native American lifestyles included avid amounts of physical activity. As the result of colonization, Native populations were forced to relocate to reservations and were expected to relinquish traditional culture and lifestyles. This loss of culture and lifestyle possibly resulted in the obesity in a large amount of the Native population. Both diet patterns and physical activity have changed markedly in Native American communities over recent decades. One study found, although detailed longitudinal surveys are not available for most tribes, the disruption of traditional agriculture and hunting has resulted in increased consumption of fat—typical of the contemporary western diet. (Gohdes p.

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