Type II Diabetes among Pima Indians

38% of Pima Indians are said to have Type II Diabetes (Lecture 2 Video). This is the highest among all other races having Type II Diabetes. I chose this topic because I am a Type II Diabetic myself and I found it very interesting to find out that it is the highest among the Pima Indians. Many people ask why is this so. As we know, there are many factors in determining why certain people have illnesses or diseases more often than another group of people. With that being said, the factors to be considered are the family history, the environment, socioeconomic status, and the overall genes of this race.

In the lecture two video, we are informed that Pima Indians went through a period in their history where there was a huge famine and based on the biology or genetic make-up of Pima Indians, they are able to store fat longer than other people could during that time. Thus, Pima Indians were able to survive during the famine. Stored fat as we know it, will eventually cause obesity. Obesity leads to other things such as heart problems, high blood pressure, and could even eventually lead to diabetes.

During the famine, the Pima Indians actually needed the stored fat in their bodies to survive. However, there is no need for as much of the stored fat any longer because they now have access to foods that they need to survive. Thus, having the stored fat plus the food that they eat daily, once again, causing obesity. To support this claim, there was a study done on the Pima Indians’ BMI to see if there was an increase in their BMI over several decades. The following shows the graphs of the increase in BMI in Pima Indians from the mid 60s to the early 2000s.


You will find that the BMI of Pima Indians increased over time. By looking at this situation, it seems as if the Pima Indians were primarily naturally selected due to their ability to store fat during the time of famine (Lecture 2). Therefore, the factors of natural selection, and gene flow were selected. The flow of the genes obviously stayed in close proximity in the Pima Indians in the United States.

In the lecture, the role of race in medicine was discussed. The medicine “Bidal” was used for hypertension in African Americans. It was said to be more effective in African Americans than non-African American people. In the long run, the FDA and other researchers found this to be false because there was no control over other racial groups (Lecture 2). Race actually brings a lot of stress on the body and causes harm in itself. Some races have certain illnesses or diseases more than others but, in biology, there is no such thing as biologically discrete races (Lecture 2). Other factors can be measured in medicine such as socioeconomic status, neighborhood, age, etc. However, race alone cannot be the determining factor for treatment and research of the illness or disease.


Lectures from class

http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/30/7/1758.full.pdf+html. 7/11/2012.

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About Shavon Alexander

My name is Shavon Alexander. I am a Human Development and Family Studies major. I will be a junior in the fall. I am looking forward to learning new things about illness and culture in this class. I plan on going to medical school so I am really excited about this course!

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