Native Americans and Obesity

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Native Americans and Obesity,
It is Time for a Change

Obesity is an illness of the mind and the body. In the United States it continues on a startling rise. This problem is especially detrimental to the Native American population. Studies indicate that obesity rates among the Native American population is "higher than the respective U.S. rates for all races combined" (Broussard 536S). As obesity among this population continues to rise, the number of Native Americans suffering from obesity related diseases will rise as well and the projected life span of this population will continue to decline. At the turn of the twentieth century, obesity was rare among Native Americans. Malnutrition was once a large problem for them. As the years passed, a large increase in obesity among Native Americans occurred, which also contributed to a decline in their health. The theories of why this occurred include genetic, developmental, environmental, and economic factors. After observing several studies, it is evident the Native American population in the U.S. is the midst of a physically and emotionally unhealthy life cycle that is continuing from generation to generation.

Reviewing selected studies in the 1990's on the prevalence of obesity in Native Americans, it showed that among the Navajo Indians of New Mexico, 29.1 percent of the children, 25 percent of the adolescent males, 33 percent of adolescent females, 42.1 percent of the adult males, and 54.7 percent of the adult females were overweight or obese (Story 749S). Among the adult Zuni Indians of New Mexico, between the ages of 20-39 years old, 40 percent were overweight or obese, and between the ages of 40-59 years old, 70.7 percent were overweight or obese (Story 749S).

In the search for a solution to this problem, we must look at the theories to why this problem exists. Starting with the genetic theory, scientists should research this further to determine if there is in fact a genetic predisposition...
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