Chris Buchanan, the acting director of the Indian Health Service, with Alton Villegas, a young citizen of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. Photo: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs

Chris Buchanan: Indian Health Service sees progress on diabetes

Chris Buchanan, a citizen of the Seminole Nation who serves as acting director of the Indian Health Service, discusses efforts to combat diabetes among adults and youth in Indian Country:
Diabetes is an important topic for Indian Country, for our families and communities, and for the Indian Health Service. It’s a complex, costly and chronic disease. Diabetes can cause many complications, including kidney damage. Many of us have relatives or friends who require dialysis for diabetes-related, end-stage kidney disease and must travel long distances to a dialysis center several times a week.

As I testified, the latest data show a leveling off of diabetes in Native America. The proportion of American Indian adults who have diabetes is no longer increasing, and we are seeing big changes in treatment of complications of diabetes, too. According to the January 2017 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Vital Signs report Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving, new cases of diabetes-related kidney failure decreased dramatically -- 54 percent -- among American Indian and Alaska Native adults from 1996 to 2013, a much larger decline than in any other racial group in the United States.

Indianz.Com on SoundCloud: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Oversight Hearing March 29, 2017
There is good news for the health of youth, as well. Although the proportion of American Indian youth ages 10 to 19 who have type 2 diabetes is higher than in other racial/ethnic groups, the prevalence for American Indian youth in this age group did not increase from 2001 to 2009. Obesity among youth, an important risk factor for diabetes, also seems to be leveling off.

Read More on the Story:
Chris Buchanan: Celebrating Successes in Diabetes Prevention for Native Americans and Continuing the Work (IHS Blog 3/29)

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Notice:
Oversight Hearing on “Native Youth: Promoting Diabetes Prevention Through Healthy Living.” (March 29, 2017)

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