The Rise of Obesity and Diabetes with the Adoption of A Western Diet: A Case Study of Native American Communities

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The Rise of Obesity and Diabetes with the Adoption of A Western Diet: A Case Study of Native American Communities

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Title: The Rise of Obesity and Diabetes with the Adoption of A Western Diet: A Case Study of Native American Communities
Author: McCoy, Martha
Citation: Martha McCoy, "The rise of obesity and diabetes with the adoption of a western diet: a case study of Native American communities" (May 01, 2012).
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Abstract: Since the mid-1900s, rates of obesity and diabetes among Native American populations have been much higher than the rates of those disorders for Americans as a whole—and yet, before 1950 or so, diabetes was extremely rare among Native Americans. This paper suggests that the influence of Western culture in Native American communities in the last 60 years, and particularly Native American adoption of the Western diet, is the primary reason for the rapid increase in obesity and diabetes. This paper reviews the history of Native American interaction with Europeans and the U.S., and analyzes several theories regarding the specific mechanisms by which Western influence has high rates of obesity/diabetes in Native American communities. It concludes that the obesity/diabetes epidemic is driven by several factors: the historical U.S. policies of relocating Native Americans and attempting to assimilate them into Western culture; the resulting extreme poverty of Native American tribes and their reliance on government food programs; and the destruction of environmental resources that tribes depended on for sustenance, compel many tribes to adopt a Western-style diet. In turn, the Western diet, high in glucose and simple carbohydrates, causes significant obesity- and diabetes-related problems among Native Americans who possess genetic and physiological propensities to efficient energy metabolism.
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Other Posted Material, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#LAA
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:11940214
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