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Diabetes and obesity ravage Native population

Native people in southern Arizona are suffering and dying from diabetes and obesity at rates 10 times the national average.

Among the Tohono O'odham Nation, 50 percent of adult members and 85 percent of elderly members have diabetes. Members of the Pascua Yaqui and Pima tribes suffer from similarly high rates. Mexican residents with Indian heritage face twice the risk of diabetes.

Native Americans in Arizona have the highest diabetes death rate -- 74.6 per 100,000. Hispanics have the second highest -- 41 per 100,000. The state average is 19 per 100,000.

Most of the cases are Type 2 diabetes, which health experts say can be avoided by making lifestyle changes. But the El Rio Community Health Center in Tucson, which works largely Hispanics and Pascua Yaqui tribal members, attacks the disease with a combination of different drugs. The clinic's program is drawing national attention.

Get the Story:
Aggressive attack on body-racking disease (The Arizona Daily Star 4/19)
Southern Arizona: epicenter of an epidemic (The Arizona Daily Star 4/18)