On the last day of class we watched a movie titled “Bad Sugar” about how inequality may be causing diabetes on the Tohono O’odham reservation. In this first part of this film the creators of the movie astutely point out that one of the biggest causers of diabetes is poverty. I had read previously about how poverty makes it difficult to afford and buy healthy foods but I had no idea about how high stress from poverty can cause diabetes. Apparently high levels of stress releases chemicals in the body that contribute to the development of diabetes. This is especially dangerous when a population is already genetically predisposed to the disease.
The Tohono O’odham nation currently has a 40.5% poverty rate, a number that is four times higher than the whole state of Arizona. They are also genetically predisposed to the disease. Despite these factors the movie remains optimistic that the O’odham can fight this epidemic. They talk about eating healthier traditional food and exercising as well as promoting optimism about stopping the disease. A big part of the problem is that many O’odham have developed a fatalist attitude. They believe that they have no choice and that they will get diabetes no matter what they eat or how much they exercise. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and further exacerbates the diabetes epidemic. As long as poverty exists on the reservation there will be diabetes, but that doesn’t mean the O’odham can’t take steps to fight this epidemic.