Bad Sugar

On the Health Equity Quiz I received a 4 out 10. I did not know the answers to most of the questions and was rather surprised to find out that our ranking was the 29th. I expected us to be of a higher ranking because of how wealthy we are in comparison to other countries. I also found it surprising that Latino immigrants are healthier than the average American. It is not surprising that after a couple years their health starts to dissipate. Obesity and other health problems seem to be a problem in the United States.

Although development, urbanization, and globalization mean greater health among locals, there are other factors that come into play such as genetics and cultural beliefs. The video I chose to observe was Unnatural Causes 4 “Bad Sugar”. I chose this one because when I read the title I thought about diabetes and that is prevalent to my family. The video talked mostly about the Pima individuals in Arizona who suffer from diabetes at about a 50% rate. Pima people live in a poor developed city where they obtain commodity foods from the government due to dams being built and diverging their water supple. This “commodity food” that they are given contains candy, canned foods, gravy – food that is a nightmare for a diabetic. No fresh produce was given to them until 1996 and authentic, traditional food still does not exist for them. There are no healthy food options and poor places to exercise which decreases the hopefulness of many Pima individuals. The people are giving up. A reason they are doing so is that acquiring diabetes is part of the norm for them. In an interview with an elder of the Pima heritage, he stated that he knew eventually he would get diabetes. Many of them feel the same thing will happen and do nothing to fight the increasing rate of the disease. They suffer from diabetes – blindness, amputation, insulin injections – and die from poverty.

Many contributing factors for the prevalence of diabetes in Pima individuals are the poverty rates, the public belief that no matter what they do they will still obtain diabetes, the governments ill planned dam project, and also the unhealthy foods they receive. Genetics may play a huge role, but there are also these ideas that can explain the observed health disparities.

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  1. Kelly Delorme says:

    I thought the case study about the Pima people from Arizona was really interesting because it demonstrated a really good relationships between genetics and lifestyle. In lecture we discussed the Thrifty Genotype Hypothesis as a way to explain why the Pima people are more susceptible to diabetes. Over many years and generations, mutation, natural selection, genetic drift and gene flow all contributed to passing on genes that allowed the Pima people to store fat in times of low food. Nowadays this is a maladaptation because they no longer go through periods of scarcity. Based on your summary, I think the best solution for the Pima people’s health problem would be the implementation of a health and lifestyle program that would educate the Pima people. I think it is important for them to be informed that their genes play a big role in their susceptibility to diabetes, but diet and lifestyle are much bigger contributing factors. Things such as nutrition classes, exercise classes and weight management resources would be a huge help. I think part of the reason that they so willingly accept that they will eventually get diabetes is because they haven’t been properly educated on ways to effectively combat diabetes. It would also be extremely important to increase access to healthy food options. Without healthy food options it will be much harder for the Pima people to adopt a lifestyle that will lower their chances of developing diabetes. I think these solutions are both individual and political. No one can force these people to adopt a healthier lifestyle even with the implementation of resources and programs that will help. If these resources became available it would be up to the people to utilize them and learn from what they are being taught. At the same time, I think this solution is also political because the government should help contribute to implementing programs like this. With obesity continually increases all across the US, I think programs like this are becoming necessary to educate Americans and to help reduce and prevent obesity and illnesses caused by obesity.

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