W2 Activity: Bad Sugar

I did alright on the health equity quiz. I got five out of the ten questions right, which surprised me a little. It was kind of alarming to learn about some of the statistics, like how the United States has gone from one of the top five or ten healthiest countries, in regards to life expectancy, to nearly the thirtieth in only fifty years. It is also startling to find out about how there are significant poverty and health problems in our own country that are often worse that other countries that we consider to be “developing” or “third-world”.

The episode I chose was titled “Bad Sugar”. It was about the concern with the high rate of diabetes in the Tohono and Pima Native American tribes. It is reported that there is a nearly fifty percent rate of diabetes among these people, while other populations have only five to ten percent occurrence. Many doctors, scientists and researchers have investigated this phenomenon. They have looked into many factors that contributed to this high rate of disease in their communities. Because of civil improvements such as dams that were constructed in the 20’s and 30’s, many of these Native American tribes no longer had access to the amount or quality of water they previously had. The dams diverted water to rich farms so they could mass produce their crops, but the small farming communities of the Tohono and Pima were left in a near drought. Though water access has been restored to these areas in the last forty or so years, many of these Native American peoples have suffered from starvation and poverty. In an attempt to remedy these conditions, the government supplied packaged and canned foods to the people for the last fifty or sixty years. While having food supplies is better than starvation, many of the Native Americans developed diabetes from their overconsumption of preserved and packaged foods.

This health disparity is certainly caused by environmental issues and from the Tohono and Pima people having their culture and way of life disrupted, and very little to do with genetics. A researcher featured in the video even explained that the combination of gene mutations to cause diabetes could not be identified in the Tohono and Pima people.

One thought on “W2 Activity: Bad Sugar

  1. Hey Michael,
    I just read your post and it really struck home for me. I think we can consistently see throughout the history of the United States that we have put ‘progress’ ahead of the people nearly every time. Even when that progress doesn’t necessarily improve anything. It is genuinely enraging to see this occur time after time to the detriment of an entire group of people, like the Tohono and Pima tribes.
    In this case, I believe a tri-pronged approach is necessary to make this phenomena cease to occur in this country. The first prong is political. When I look at this situation, I see that the government has created a system where people of means can trample on others for their own personal gain. There should be laws that stop this kind of problem from occurring.
    Secondly, the problem is economic. We have an economy that demands sacrifice in some areas in order to service the many and without any way to help those that made the sacrifice. We can see from this situation that something was taken from the people and they got nothing in return, in addition to a detrimental source of food rather than actual crops that were growing from their sacrifice.
    The final prong is social. The people have a voice, and if enough people can sympathize with these groups, the people can push for the government and economy to avoid decisions like this in the future. However, the people of this country have grown into a group that has no sympathy for groups that are trodden underfoot and so these problems will continue to occur.
    For this reason, every single person in this country is currently responsible for the continuation of the rates of diabetes in these groups. We all need to be pushing for change.
    Thanks for your post,

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