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Addressing Diabetes Disparities in the Indigenous Community of the United States

Addressing Diabetes Disparities in the Indigenous Community of the United States

Diabetes is a chronic health concern that has reached epidemic proportions worldwide. One community in the US that has been adversely impacted by this disease most is the Indigenous population in the country. Its composition varies from diverse tribes to different cultures, which have been present in North America for decades. The nurses have many challenges, such as serious health disparities. This essay looks at the effect of diabetes among Native Americans in the USA by critically discussing the disease and the social determinants of health (SDOH) associated with it.


Diabetes is a multifactorial and chronic disease that interferes with the normal processing of insulin, a principal source of energy for the human body. It is primarily categorized into two types: Diabetes – Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system destroys insulin-making cells in the pancreas(Sapra & Bhandari, 2020). Insulin plays a critical role in controlling blood sugar levels. However, the most common type of this disease is Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for increased blood glucose levels either due to the resistance to insulin or lack of it.

Diabetes is a serious health issue for indigenous populations of the USA; it impacts indigenous people’s individual and communal well-being. This results in such problems as heart disease, renal failure, and blindness. The high prevalence of diabetes among Indigenous populations can be attributed to genetic, lifestyle, and social factors.

Background of the Indigenous Community

Indigenous Americans are a very heterogeneous and ancient cultural community in the US. They constitute many tribes, all speaking different languages and adhering to separate customs and habits. In spite of this pluralism, Indigenous peoples face similar obstacles. The disparities in healthcare, education, income, and housing are just some of these challenges. The historical trauma that has affected the health and livelihoods of Indigenous people includes that which arises from the legacies of colonization, forced relocation, and cultural oppression.

Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) for the Indigenous Community Related to Diabetes


Indigenous populations experience poverty as a critical social determinant of health. Indigenous people in the US are more likely to be poor than non-Hispanic Whites. Health disparities are aggravated by economic disadvantages, making it almost impossible for people to acquire good food or health care services. With limited resources, it is harder to buy more expensive but healthier food and engage in preventive actions that might reduce the likelihood of developing diabetes (CDC, 2018; CDC, 2022).

Food Insecurity

Food insecurity is a condition of inconsistent access to adequate and balanced diets, which indigenous people face more frequently. Often, it results in substandard meals for individuals who cannot afford proper nutritious food, eventually succumbing to a risk group for diabetic patients. Many Indigenous areas have limited access to low-cost and nutritious food, making it challenging to lead a healthy lifestyle there.

Access to Healthcare

Quality health care is essential in determining health, yet it still needs improvement among indigenous populations. Geographical boundaries influence access, lack of insurance, and disparities between Indigenous groups and conventional medical care provision. Most of the Indigenous population lives in remote areas where the availability of healthcare is minimal, often necessitating long-distance travel to reach medical support. Moreover, they need help accessing care due to a lack of health insurance and unsuitability in healthcare services.


Indigenous people face discrimination as an issue that cross-cuts different dimensions, for example, in health care. Stress is caused by overt and subtle discriminatory actions that lead to serious health problems. Such problems also make reaching other necessary resources and opportunities for better health complex. The disparity in health among indigenes is compounded by prejudgment and bias towards them in both clinical surroundings and their lives outside of clinical settings.

Efforts to Control Diabetes in the Indigenous Community

Efforts to control and address diabetes within the Indigenous community are multifaceted, aiming to tackle the multidimensional issues contributing to the high prevalence of the disease. Firstly, community-based programs have been established to educate and support Indigenous individuals with diabetes and their families. Most of these programs offer various services like diabetes screening, nutrition education, and exercise classes (CDC, 2018). These initiatives are effective because they are relevant culturally and involve the community to enhance public education and advocate for healthy lifestyle choices. Secondly, the adoption of telehealth. Telehealth is the most significant development, ensuring access to health services for Indigenous people in remote regions. Indigenous people can also be provided with medical consulting assistance by using videoconferencing or other technologies like telehealth. Such an approach can alleviate the obstacles of distance and enhance quick access to health care. Lastly, research into diabetes within an indigenous community is ongoing. The purpose of this research is to find genetically influential aspects behind the high level of this disease among this particular population. They also explore how SDOH affects diabetes and seek to formulate interventions that address these factors. This investigation offers valuable ideas regarding community preventive and therapeutic strategies.


Diabetes persists as a serious public health issue for American Indigenous populations, necessitating an integrated approach that recognizes social determinants of health. These include poverty, food insecurity, limited healthcare access, and discrimination, which account for a high incidence of diabetes among this population. While there is some action through community-based projects, telehealth ventures, and research studies towards addressing this multidimensional problem, more effort should be made at tackling fundamental social determinant that affects the health of the indigenous population to achieve enhanced health status for progress will only be achieved when all hands are on deck. Healthcare providers, government agencies, indigenous leaders, and communities should come together to devise a comprehensive blueprint for addressing these challenges.


CDC. (2018). Native Americans with diabetes – vital signs – CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC. (2022, October 13). Social Determinants of Health. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sapra, A., & Bhandari, P. (2020). Diabetes Mellitus. PubMed; StatPearls Publishing.


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Addressing Diabetes Disparities

Addressing Diabetes Disparities

In next week’s summative assessment, as a public health manager, you’ll be tasked with creating an action plan based on a chosen community and a disease or health concern that the community faces.
This week, you’ll begin your research by choosing a health concern or disease and a community affected by it (e.g., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018, studies of diabetes and Indigenous people of the U.S.).

Create a document or visual that shares your chosen topics and your findings with the faculty member.

Describe the selected disease or health condition and the efforts to control it.
Describe the background of the community.
Describe 2–4 social determinants of health (SDOH) for your community related to this disease or health condition.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, November 15). Native Americans with diabetes: Better diabetes care can decrease kidney failure. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

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