Bad Sugar

On the Health Equity quiz, I managed to score a 6/10, and I was surprised by nearly all of the facts that were thrown at me during the quiz. The one that stood out the most to me was that the United States ranks only 29th in the world when it comes to life expectancy. For some reason, and I’m sure many others have felt the same way, I was completely under the impression that life expectancy was much higher ranked and maybe even in the top 5.

Of the three Unnatural Causes Episodes I watched, the episode that I found the most interesting was “Bad Sugar.” Throughout the episode, it is described how the Tahono O’odham, a Native American tribe of southern Arizona, are being affected by the high prevalence of type II diabetes amongst their people. It was originally believed that the large amount of people with diabetes from this tribe was caused by genetics until further investigation was done on the history of the O’odham. During this investigation it was discovered that the increase in cases of diabetes began after the Gila River was diverted away from the O’odham tribe’s land through the use of a damn. The tribe was then unable to continue growing their own crops, producing healthy foods, and instead had to rely on government aid to receive their food. Unfortunately, the food that was sent to the O’odham was incredibly unhealthy and contained large amounts of sugar. Over time, the frequent consumption of this food and sugar resulted in increased cases of type II diabetes amongst the people of the O’odham.

The poverty experienced by the O’odham had a direct correlation with the amount of type II diabetes cases seen in this population. The poverty was caused by the inability of the people to sell their crops and maintain some wealth. This trend is actually very common among many people at low poverty levels. The rate of diabetes can nearly double for those with an income of less than $15,000 versus those with an income level of more than $80,000.

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