Bad Sugar

Although I got a 7/10 on the Health Equity Quiz, I will admit that some of those were guesses based on things that I learned in a previous course.  One statistic that struck me was how much the United States life expectancy rank has so dramatically fallen over the course of 50 years.  I found this to be ironic in that the quiz also stated that we spend two and a half times as much on healthcare in comparison to the average of other industrialized countries.

The “Bad Sugar” episode of Unnatural Causes was one of the episodes that I chose to watch, and it told the story of the O’odham/Pima peoples and the high prevalence of diabetes amongst them.  It was a bit of a history lesson to me, and I was very saddened to learn of their history in regards to the damning of the Gila river. As a result of this, the people lost their only source of water- an essential part of their culture and everyday lives. One part in the episode that was emotional for me was when a woman talked about her feelings on how the people upstream of the dam benefited from their loss. Unable to grow crops, they found themselves impoverished.  Later, they were provided commodity food, in which they had to adjust, making do with what they barely had. Fry bread – dough fried in lard – is a food often thought of as part of their culture, however this only became true as a result of them not having the resources that they previously did. Such alterations in diet, along with other hardships they faced as a result of their loss of the river are examples of non-genetic factors that may have played a role in the high statistic of diabetes amongst the people. This episode enabled me to look at diabetes from a different perspective, and assisted in widening my view in terms of taking in many factors when looking at disease.


This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Ellen Howard says:

    Hello, I also watched “Bad Sugar” and found it a very interesting to learn about but also sad to hear the history behind why there is a problem with diabetes and the native people. The major problem the native people have now that is contributing to diabetes is their diet. The food available and choices are very poor. There is only one market close to their land and a trip to the grocery store would an hour round trip. They are not able to grow crops on their land due to the damning of the river. A possible solution for these people and for all people is diabetes and diet education. For without education, regardless of what is readily available, the trend of diabetes will continue. An educational program on diabetes prevention, presented at a young age, would greatly benefit the people. This solution is somewhat political and individual. The education would need to be provided by a source, but in the end the choices made after the education would be individual choices. I think the people responsible for the damned river should provide and cover the expenses of the educational program. The program needs to be taken seriously so the government may potentially need to step in. The pro’s of this educational solution are that these natives have the knowledge at a young age of what can and is happening to their community. They can learn preventative steps of stopping this epidemic within their families. The con’s of this solution are that it is not a definite solution. In the end the food people put in their body is an individual choice. There is no one there to stop someone from putting unhealthy food in their body. There would only be guidance of what they should and shouldn’t eat.

  2. Meghan Kinter says:

    I think that there could be multi-step solutions to this health issue with diabetes among the Pima people. There should be a government program issued where healthier food options are available, more organic foods in the form of a whole foods market for the Pima people. Also, the government should begin educational programs on diabetes. These programs would educate those suffering from diabetes about their condition and educate all on how to eat healthier and live a healthier live to prevent them from developing diabetes. This is a more political kind of solution because I think that the government should be responsible for fixing the issue because the government is responsible for allowing the Dam to be built destroying the homes and land of the Pima people. The pro’s of this solution would be that the Pima people have access to healthier foods and know more about diabetes, hopefully this would ultimately lead to a decline in the number of Native Americans with diabetes. A con of this solution would be the money, it would definitely cost a lot of money which would have to come from some sort of tax, because no one if fond of taxes, let alone a raise in taxes, this might upset some people!

  3. Brannden McDonnell says:

    From reading about your summary I believe that the best solution to the O’odham/Pima peoples problem would be a water purifier. Education is always a good resources and everybody should know as much info as possible to help extend their life expectancy. However, I feel education can only help so far if they don’t have the resources to use this knowledge to their advantage. If one could somehow be installed to clean the river that would be the best, but most likely extremely expensive. A more likely solution would be to have smaller water purifiers that each household or groups of family could use.

    This solution would require money to build and import these items so it would be mostly economical. I feel that the government should be responsible for providing these water purifiers as they need to take care of their people when they are facing a hardship such as this. The pros of this solution is it provides clean water for the people of O’odham/Pima, allowing them to drink clean, healthy water and possibly use it to help grow crops. A con would be if they had to buy these appliances themselves, where they are already poor and would most likely not be able to afford them or it would cripple them financially more so than they already are.

  4. Molly DeMarr says:

    I too think there are multiple solutions to the problems that the O’odham/Pima people faced. For one, I think education plays a huge role in health. Learning about healthy nutrition and exercise and how it effects one’s body. But even with the knowledge of good health, people have to have certain resources available in order to accomplish these things. I feel that resources for exercise are much readily available than that of nutrition. Things like walking, running, jumping are all things that can be done with minimal space. As for nutrition, if they were stripped of their water source, that for one makes things more difficult. Water is a crucial part of one’s daily diet, but on top of that made it merely impossible for them to grow their own food. So on top of some sort of health education, I feel that the government should’ve then provided the O’odham/Pima people with fresh foods, whether that be by providing them with a local market or venders or importing healthy natural goods so their nutritional needs can be met. The pros of the educational step is that if educated well and then practiced, hopefully these individuals will pass their knowledge and new habits onto their young. The government rationing healthy goods could be a hit or a miss as produce can be incredibly expensive and depending on the season, the government may not be willing to spend a given number of dollars on those goods.

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