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Tackling Diabetes in the American Indian/Alaska Native Communities

Sep 27, 2017, 10:54 AM

Kelly Concho-Hayes and daughter

November is American Diabetes Month® and Native American Heritage Month. One of the American Diabetes Association’s (Association) primary objectives is to raise awareness and understanding of diabetes, its consequences, management and prevention of type 2 diabetes among high risk communities. Diabetes is far too common in the American Indian/Alaska Native communities. At nearly 16.1 percent, American Indian/Alaska Native have the highest age-adjusted prevalence of diabetes among all U.S. racial and ethnic groups.  To tackle this immense problem, the Association has various programs and initiatives in place.

Awakening the Spirit is our American Indian and Alaska Native initiative. This initiative is designed for the American Indian/Alaska Native communities with tips on diabetes prevention, management and how to better advocate for funding diabetes education programs in tribal communities.

Facebook mosaic:  Diabetes doesn’t stop.  It is 24/7, 365 days a year.  To showcase the extraordinary effort it takes to live a day with the disease, we continue to ask people to submit a personal image to our Facebook mosaic representing what A Day in the Life of Diabetes means to them. The image can be a picture of themselves or someone they care about, or otherwise represent how the disease impacts their lives.  The image will then make up a larger mosaic image that will embody the message of A Day in the Life of Diabetes. I encourage you visit our page and submit your photo!

AmericanIndian_Stats_ADALiving with Type 2 Diabetes Program: Approximately 95 percent of those with diabetes in American Indian and Alaska Native community have type 2 diabetes. We have many resources on type 2 diabetes including this free program. It is designed for the newly diagnosed and provides healthy recipes, informational packets, a monthly e-newsletter and more, to help make it through the first year of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Raising awareness and spreading the message of diabetes prevention and management is vital for the American Indian/Alaska Native communities.  I hope you’ll join me this month in raising awareness of this ever-growing epidemic that is sweeping our nation.


Kelly Concho-Hayes (Navajo/Acoma) is the Associate Director, American Indian & Alaska Native Initiatives and High Risk Populations, for the American Diabetes Association.