Diabetes is serious, costly and epidemic in AI/AN communities. Once a disease that
affected only our elders, type 2 diabetes is increasingly prevalent among our younger generation.
The graph below shows that a very large increase in type 2 diabetes has occurred in AI/AN youth and children
from 1990-2004; a 77% increase in children under 15 years of age, and a 128% increase in 15-19 year olds. This
alarming trend means that, if it continues, more and more American Indians and Alaska Natives will suffer
disproportionately from renal failure, blindness, and cardiovascular complications due to the earlier onset of
the disease. More and more AI/AN children are diagnosed each year with type 2 diabetes, some as young as 4-5
years of age. This is becoming a health issue for AI-AN Head Start programs.
The prevalence of overweight and obesity among American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN)
children has increased dramatically in the last thirty years. The current epidemic of childhood and adult obesity
and obesity related illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease is having significant implications
for AI/AN children.
- 39% of AI/AN are school children are overweight.
- Two-fold increase in prevalence of obesity in AI/AN preschool children in 13 years (graph below).
- Obesity increase risk of diabetes and heart disease
- Obese 3 year old children are at a 10-20% risk of obesity as an adult
- Overweight 13 year old children are at a 80-90% risk of being obese as an adult
Healthy eating and physical activity are proven to reduce the risk of overweight and obesity among children.
Early Head Start and Head Start provides an ideal opportunity to promote the development of healthy lifestyles through
the promotion healthy eating and physical activity.