Sunday, February 7, 2010

Diabetes & Native Americans

Native Americans are at higher risks of getting diabetes more than any other race in America according to the American Diabetes Association. Diabetes is a disease that targets the body's ability to produce or respond to insulin (a hormone that lowers the level of glucose (a type of sugar), in the blood. Basically, it’s a hormone that allows blood glucose (blood sugar) to enter the cells of the body and be used for energy. Diabetes falls into two main categories: type 1, which usually occurs during childhood or adolescence, and type 2, the most common form of the disease, usually occurring after age 45. The American Diabetes Association claims that

Native Americans inherited a gene from their ancestors which enabled them to use food more efficiently during "feast and famine" cycles. Today there are fewer such cycles; this causes certain populations to be more susceptible to obesity and to developing type 2 diabetes.
The serious complications of diabetes are increasing in frequency among Native Americans. One of the major concerns are increasing rates of kidney failure, amputations and blindness due to diabetes. Ten to twenty-one percent of all people with diabetes develop kidney disease. One of the most causes for non-traumatic lower limb amputations is from diabetes. The rates for Amputations among Native Americans are 3-4 times higher than the general population. Education is critical. Reducing the risk of complications is possible if people are educated about their disease. People can control their blood glucose levels by learning what needs to be done receiving regular checkups from their health care provider also helps. The National Institute for Diabetes states, a tribe in Arizona has the highest rate of diabetes in the world. About 50% of the tribe between the ages of 30 and 64 have diabetes. Further more, diabetes can cause the small blood vessels of the retina, such as weakening of blood vessel walls or leakage from blood vessels. Diabetic retinopathy occurs in 18% of Pima Indians and 24.4% of Oklahoma Indians.
Overall Native Americans are at high risk to this disease and, education along with awareness’ needs to take place because this disease is constantly showing up in our Native American blood line. In my family luckily I have not seen much of this disease except one relative who has passed on but, one relative, is one too many!


  1. It is interesting how diabetes affects some groups of people more than others. My grandfather had it bad and had his legs amputated. My husband's father (indeed most of his family) has it as well. We are trying to combat getting it by switching to a vegetarian diet. Are there preferences among your tribe members on how to combat diabetes? Rebecca

  2. oh yeah, its so sad too. Im sorry about the loss of the leg of your grandpa. I have not seen first hand a unity of how to combat this but, Im sure its in the works. I know allot of family memebers stoped using lard to cook with in my family for instance