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IHS Head Start Logo Indian Health Service Head Start Program

801 Vassar Dr., NE
Albuquerque, NM 87106
Phone: (505) 248-7694
Fax: (505) 248-7728

Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Home Head Start Providers Head Start Families
Nationwide Programs and Initiatives
Focus Areas: Diabetes

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
Prevalence of Obesity in Preschool Children, 2-5 years

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.


Photo of a boy holding an action figure

This file last modified: Friday June 6, 2008  3:34 PM