Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Within American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) Populations
AI/AN Populations Face Public Health Hurdles
CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity (DNPAO) protects the health of Americans at every stage of life by encouraging regular physical activity, good nutrition, and preventing adult and childhood obesity. Some communities, including AI/AN, face more challenges to achieving overall health.
AI/AN communities have innate strengths and resilience rooted in tribal culture and traditional ways of life. However, AI/AN culture and traditions have been severely disrupted by colonialism, loss of land, and policies, such as assimilation, relocation, and tribal termination, resulting in historical trauma that contributes to higher rates of chronic disease and underlying risk factors, such as obesity and commercial tobacco use.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP) partners with AI/AN communities to promote health, prevent disease, and strengthen cultural connections that improve health and promote wellness. For more information, visit CDC’s Division of Nutrition Physical Activity and Obesity.
Community health organizers in Manistique, Michigan, population 3,097, face a number of obstacles in their fight against obesity. High poverty levels and unemployment in a rural food desert provide few affordable options for purchasing fresh produce. With the goal to eliminate a rural food desert, the Manistique work group decided to carry fresh food products exclusively. To increase farmer availability, the group also chose Wednesdays over Saturdays to hold the market.
At least 2,057 members of the Bay Mills Indian Community (BMIC) in northern Michigan can shop and eat healthier thanks to a new farmers’ market
Community Outreach and Patient Empowerment (COPE), the Navajo Nation-based site of Partners In Health, started a Fruit and Vegetable Prescription (FVRx) program.
To increase opportunities for physical activity in Native American communities, the Coeur d’Alene tribe in Plummer, Idaho, launched the Pow Wow Sweat program with a series of aerobic videos featuring traditional dances with a modern twist.
Navajo youth participate in leadership workshops and learning activities to increase their knowledge of healthy foods while incorporating Navajo tradition and culture.
The need to increase access to healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables is particularly great in tribal communities.