San Diego Addresses Obesity, Diabetes Among American Indians

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Health care professionals and educators in the San Diego area held a conference last week to focus on obesity and diabetes among American Indians, particularly children, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

In San Diego County, nearly one-third of American Indians ages five to 19 were obese in 2004, compared with 25% of the general population, according to the Union-Tribune. Diabetes, particularly type 2, is linked to obesity.


Conference attendees sought to determine ways to improve the nutrition and physical activity of American Indian children. Lisa Turner, a nutritionist and diabetes coordinator for the Southern Indian Health Council, said that it is difficult for many children living on reservations to engage in outdoor activities, such as riding bikes and skateboarding, because there are few sidewalks in remote reservations.

Some tribes have built new recreation centers, gyms and ball parks to encourage more physical activity. Others have removed soda vending machines from existing recreation centers and began offering martial arts classes.

Another hindrance to preventing obesity and diabetes among American Indians is access to healthy food. Many American Indians living in poverty rely on highly-processed and fatty government-issued food for their diets, the Union-Tribune reports. In addition, for remote reservations, the nearest grocery store can be located miles away (Soto, San Diego Union-Tribune, 12/8).

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