Bad Sugar

The Health Equity quiz did not go as good as I thought it would. I thought I knew a lot of the answers but I did not even know half of them. I was VERY shocked with the first question which was “How does American Life Expectancy compare to that of other countries?” I thought that the U.S. would be number 1 for life expectancy since we have a lot of resources at our advantage compared to a lot of other countries. However, it turns out that Japan has the highest life expectancy.

The “Unnatural Causes” episode that I picked was “Bad Sugar.” The video was about how Pima Indians have a 38% susceptibility to Type II Diabetes. There is research being done on this claim. However, scientists have actually come to believe that it is something in the biology of Pima Indians that stands out from others races of people. There was a famine long ago where the Pima Indians were the people who survived it the most during that time. This is because Pima Indians are somehow able to store more fat and for longer periods of time than other races. Therefore, since there is more access to food and the famine is now over, Pima Indians are storing more fat because now they have access to food. Scientists are claiming that Pima Indians were naturally selected during the time of the famine and storing fat will eventually turn into obesity and the obesity leads to Type II Diabetes.

In the video, they also show how some of the Pima Indians live. Most of the Pima Indians live below the poverty line which can also be a factor of why Type II Diabetes is so high. As your can see, politics and economics kind of goes hand in hand when it comes to disease. People with higher socioeconomic status are said to be healthier and they have healthier diets most of the time ( Culture and individual choice also play a role in the treatment and spread of disease. Pima Indians were deprived of water for centuries due to changes made to the Gila River for water projects which made Pima Indians suffer more than any other tribe of Indians. Without water, it is very difficult to remain in good health status. Mexican Indians were also studied and they were overall more healthy than the Pima Indians because they had more access to healthy foods and water. Therefore, they were able to make smarter diet choices. Thus, the individual choice of exercise and eating a healthy diet is also a factor in the spread and treatment of disease. It is very interesting to see how all of the different factors effect the health of people in our society.


“Bad Sugar” video clip July 12, 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!

1 thought on “Bad Sugar

  1. A possible solution to this problem depends on if the research that the scientists reported is true. According to the summary, scientists feel that there is something genetically different about the Pima Indians, which has in the past allowed them to survive during times of famine. This occurs by allowing them to store more fat over long periods of time. Having this trait in current times when food is plentiful can result in the development of Type II diabetes. It is also mentioned that most Pima Indians live below the poverty line and have unhealthy diets, which can also result in Type II diabetes development. If there is genetic evidence to the Pima’s ability to better store fats then physicians and public health officials need to work on educating these people on the effects of their condition. Having the ability to efficiently store fat for long periods of time and living below the poverty line where fatty foods and physical inactivity is usually common can be dangerous combination that increases the likelihood of Type II diabetes development.

    The pros of this solution is the Pima people will be educated about their increased risk for Type II diabetes and can be provide with methods to help reduce that risk. The cons would be that one way to reduce the risk is to eat healthier, which can be a financial issue to those that live below the poverty line.

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