(left), summer intern from the Three Affiliated Tribes, New Town, North Dakota,
uses a wrist monitor to take the blood pressure of Donna Grandbois, Turtle
Mountain Chippewa from Belcourt, North Dakota, outside the Mobile Nutrition
Research Laboratory. Click the image for more information about
story to find out more.
Scientists Mobilize To Conduct Nutrition
Research Among American Indians By
Rosalie Marion Bliss
July 13, 2004
Service scientists have identified several nutritional and physical
activity factors that affect chronic health diseases among American
Jacqueline S. Gray, a postdoctorate researcher with the ARS
Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center (GFHNRC) in Grand Forks, N.D., used a
mobile nutrition research laboratory to access powwows and reservations to
collect data. This month, she returns to the tribes to present research
American Indian tribes, considered sovereign domestic nations,
are among the most impoverished of minority groups in America. They experience
a disproportionately high incidence of diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
Native Americans also have the highest per-capita suicide rate, nearly
two-and-a-half times the national average and more than four times the national
average among 15- to 24-year-olds.
The study was directed by psychologist James G. Penland and
physiologist Henry C. Lukaski with the center's Mineral Nutrient Functions
More than 60 percent of the survey participants indicated they
had a family member who had been diagnosed with diabetes. Food insecurity was a
problem among 26 percent of those surveyed. That meant that during the previous
12 months, they had experienced various degrees of limited or uncertain access
to nutritionally adequate and safe foods.
Depression-related symptoms were found to be associated with
poorer health, less exercise, food insecurity, higher body mass index in
females, carbohydrate intake in males and tobacco use. Depression scores were
highest among those reporting lower income, more children, and food insecurity.
But they were lowest among those reporting a stronger identity with their
The resulting study data will be used for designing and
implementing effective interventions to improve health and quality of life
among American Indians. Gray and Penland are providing a technical report to
all participating tribal groups for their use when applying for grant
about this research in the July issue of Agricultural Research
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.