Environmental Scan of Childhood Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes in New Mexico Native American Communities

Overweight, obesity and type 2 diabetes are rampant in Native American communities and are afflicting ever younger children. These issues create long-term and generational health effects for many Native American youth and their families constituting significant health concerns for many tribes in New Mexico. However, the absence of a comprehensive policy framework to support prevention, health and wellness for American Indian youth and their families limits our ability to systemically make changes to improve their health status and lives. With limited education and health disparities among New Mexico’s 10.5 percent American Indian population, New Mexico is ground zero for addressing childhood obesity and diabetes among American Indian children and youth. To address the alarming rates of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes among American Indian children and youth, the NB3 Foundation, in conjunction with Bluestone Strategy Group, has conducted an environmental scan of New Mexico’s pueblos, tribes, and off-reservation Native communities in an effort to obtain a comprehensive picture of the obesity and diabetes epidemic in New Mexico.

The following report contains the findings of the scan, including rates of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes; barriers and risk factors; trends in at-risk behaviors; impact of policy at the federal, state, and tribal levels; existing and opportunities for collaborations; pertinent academic research and community-specific innovations and promising practices. This report also contains actionable recommendations, which through collaboration can have a positive impact on the prevalence of obesity and diabetes facing Native communities within New Mexico.