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.