This weeks articles and video clip all revolved around the idea of environmental injustice and inequality. I particularly liked the video clip “Bad Sugar”, part 4 in the video series “Unnatural Causes.” The video began by introducing some unnatural, powerful determinants of health such as economic, social, and political structures in today’s society. The title of the video, “Bad Sugar”, comes from the nickname given to type 2 diabetes by members of the Native American tribes interviewed in the video. Type 2 diabetes is a serious epidemic in populations such as the ones interviewed in the video. In fact, research shows that certain ethnicities around the world are twice as susceptible to type 2 diabetes than others. Currently there is no known cause OR cure for type 2 diabetes, but studies have provided links between the disease and genetics.
The part of the video I found the most interesting, however, was when they discussed the “unnatural causes” of type 2 diabetes and the scientific research behind these causes.
“If you’re in an impoverished community, and you don’t have healthy choices for food and you don’t have safe places to exercise, you are tremendously disempowered when it comes to a disease like diabetes.” -Donald Warne, M.D.
One of the main, and perhaps obvious factors attributing to the unstable health of many tribe members (as well as individuals in other impoverished areas around the world) is the lack of access to produce and/or natural, whole foods. In addition, stress from living in poverty has been directly linked to blood sugar control. When researchers observe and measure stress, they look at levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol and epinephrine. Studies show that as these stress hormones increase in the body, so too does blood sugar. And as a result, when high stress levels are maintained, glucose levels remain high and diabetes begins to develop. This seemingly hopeless pattern created by the harmful relationship between health and poverty should cease to be overlooked. It is significantly important for thousands of impoverished people not only in our own country, but also around the world.