Bad Sugar

My score on the Health Equity Quiz was 6/10. The most surprising facts from the quiz was that the U.S. life expectancy only ranks 29th in the world and that our gap in wealth is widening and it is effecting the inequalities in health, which continue to grow.
I have been lucky enough to see the Unnatural Causes episode “Bad Sugar” several times now, and it never ceases to amaze me how the effects of government projects (in this case water diversion) had such a powerful effect on the health and wellbeing of the Pima and Tohono O’odham Indians. In this episode we learn that the Pima and the Tohono O’odham Indians have one of the highest rates of diabetes in the world and that there isn’t just a biological and genetic explanation as to why. This requires a deeper look into the lives of the members of these tribes and the hardships they have faced due to having their traditional cultural practices uprooted by the government building a dam. These tribe used to use water from the river to produce their own local agricultural economy, but one the dam was build and water was diverted they were unable to do so and quickly fell into poverty. This led to their dependence on government food commodities (most of the food they got was processed and high is fats). This dependence and loss of traditional cultural practices quickly affected the health of the tribes and their risk for diabetes.
There are some obvious non-genetic factors that can explain why the Pima and Tohono O’odham Indians are dealing with these health disparities. The most obvious being the affects the building of the dam and the diversion of the river had on the tribes. Their loss of traditional farming practices quickly led to poverty. This in turn led to the government dependence the tribes faced and how they received the food commodities from the. Along with these things we also see how inequities in wealth affected the health of the tribes.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Connor DeMars says:

    A solution to the Pima and Tohono O’odham Indian’s health problems could be that the government funds the grocery stores with food that is healthier for you rather than the processed food that is high in fats. The Indians relied on their farming and agriculture from the river water for food, but once that was blocked off by the construction of a dam, they could no longer depend on their farming and relied instead on the government’s food. The least they could do after building the dam was supply the Indians with adequate food. This is the reason why the Indians had the highest rate of diabetes. This type of solution would be political because it would have to be the government’s responsibility to stop it. If we build something such as a dam, we need to think of the other possible outcomes, such as the people living on the land. If the dam absolutely needs to be placed there, than we should at least provide the proper food so that the people don’t develop conditions, such as diabetes. Even though a new policy was passed in Arizona that allowed them to have the water back that they once had, it will take some time to resume their farming and hopefully the diabetes rate decreases as well.

  2. Shardae Herriford says:

    I think that it is cool that you have seen this episode several times before this class. I never seen of these until this class started. This episode is just like the others, it makes the government look like they don’t care about no else’s well being which is very selfish. To some intent is seems as though the government could be biased to race, economic status, and class. What makes matters worst is even though we are aware of these problems that are occurring, who is really going to take a stand to change these situations so that they don’t keep happening. I agree with the statement that you said about their traditional cultured was interrupted by the government building a dam. The solution to this problem could be a sum of individual and economical. There could be educational awareness taught about diseases and health disparities in to the Pima and Tohono O’oodham on how to eat better and exercise. Often if people aren’t educated on certain things they don’t know what harm they are causing themselves. The person that should be responsible is the government. They could have done more research on where they were taking the water supply from rather just making a decision and acting upon it. The government could have sought out a better place to put the dam or at least gave them half of the earnings from the dam that they placed there. The pros of the solution more people would be educated on the diseases. This resource is valuable because they can get assistance on how to treat the cases of diabetes that is prevalent in their community. This could also teach them how to eat better and implement exercising in their community and families. The cons, since they don’t have much money they probably cant afford to eat better because organic food cost more. Another con is that if they are able to get the education resources it would need to be sponsored or paid for.

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