Type 2 Diabetes and Native Americans and Alaska Natives
Type 2 diabetes is a disease that afflicts millions
of Native Americans and Alaska Natives living in the U.S. According to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC), this particular
ethnic group is about 2.2 times more likely to develop diabetes than
Caucasian Americans. Furthermore, it is estimated that more than 15% of
Native Americans and Alaska Natives have diabetes and are receiving
care from the Indian Health Service (IHS.) Of this a little more than
8% of Alaska Natives and 27% of Native Americans have diabetes.
Researchers believe that many Native Americans and Alaska Natives
have what the researchers refer to as a Thrifty Gene. The gene
allowed members of this population to survive when food was hard to
come by helping them use food energy more efficiently than other races.
This gene may still affect some Native Americans and Alaska Natives who
have difficulty controlling their weight. This condition also appears
to relate to high blood pressure. Eat Less With Help>>
Native Americans and Alaska Natives are particularly at risk for developing cardiovascular disease.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among the Native Americans and Alaska Native population. When heart disease is coupled
with diabetes, people are 2 to 4 times as likely to suffer a stroke or
die from the disease.
The American Indian Health Council reports that Native Americans and Alaska Natives are six times more likely to develop kidney complications
than Caucasians. diabetes is the leading cause for leg and foot
amputations, which occur three to four times more than in the general
population. Diabetic retinopathy (vision problems) occurs in 18% of the Pima Indian population and over 24% of the Oklahoma Indian population.
Diabetes is a self-managed disease. As such, it is important for diabetics to educate themselves about diabetes biology, causes, and treatment options. Losing 5% of one’s body weight through physical activity, and nutrition has proven to drastically reduce the effects of Type 2 diabetes, including the onset of complications.
In additional to weight loss and exercise, nutrition and medication
will also play important roles in the management of diabetes. From a
food standpoint, diabetics must limit the amount of sugar that they eat
in order to maintain a low blood sugar level. For more information about how sugar effects diabetes and its complications, click here .
Medication may also be necessary to help patients control their
diabetes and reduce the risk of having complications. There are a host
of medications available, including oral medication and insulin. Depending on the type of diabetes you have, your doctor will recommend different medications.
Speak to your health care provider immediately for more information
about diabetes and the complications. Your doctor will recommend the
best course of treatment for you and your body.