Diabetes among Native Americans

native american

I choose to discuss type 2 Diabetes among Native Americans in our country because type 2 diabetes is detrimental to our nation and has been on the rise in the last decade.  There are many factors of why someone can get diabetes. Social status, genetics, food choices, exercise environment, health, etc all contribute to this somewhat preventable disease. Native Americans happen to fall into many of the groups that are prone to getting Type 2 diabetes. There is an estimated 30% of American Indians and Alaska Natives are on the track to getting type 2 diabetes and have been diagnosed as pre-diabetes.  Scientists have been studying as to why Native Americans may be more genetically prone to type 2 diabetes.  They have discovered that many of the Native Americans getting the disease have a problem with insulin resistance.  Also, environmental factors have been studied that have shown to contribute to the diagnosis of diabetes.  Eating high fatty processed foods leads to obesity, which can lead to diabetes. Many Native Americans that are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes may fall into a lower social class, therefore not having the knowledge and resources to avoid these foods.  From the years 1994 to 2004, diabetes in American Indian and Alaska Native youth aged 15-19 years old have increased a whopping 68%.

Based on the materials I read from this week the relationship between race, genetics and health can be closely related. A good example is the type 2 diabetes prevalence among Native Americans viewed in the video “Bad Sugar” and also discussed above.  One’s health has many contributing factors including genetics and sometimes race.  Although the term “race” is more of a social term to me rather a proper term used in the health care field, it can potentially become apparent in health and disease trends, therefore relating to health.  Genetics on the other hand can be closely related to one’s health.  Although how an individual takes care of their body is a major factor into how their overall health will be, genetics can sometimes overpower the lifestyle that person is leading.  Certain diseases can be genetically transmitted. Insulin resistance can run in a family’s genes, therefore leading to a greater risk in developing type 2 diabetes.


American Diabetes Association, “Living with Diabetes.” Last modified November 19, 2012. Accessed July 12, 2013. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/native-americans.html.

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