Turning the Tide for Native American Children

Combatting Childhood Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes in New Mexico

The Notah Begay III Foundation (NB3 Foundation) undertook a project in 2012 that focused on researching the issue of obesity and type 2 diabetes in Native-American children in New Mexico.

With epidemic rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes affecting Native-American communities nationally, this may be the first generation of Native-American children that lives shorters, sicker lives than their parents' generation. American Indians make up 10.5 percent of the population in New Mexico, and they face dramatic health and educational disparities within the state. This makes New Mexico ground zero for addressing childhood obesity and diabetes among Native-American children.

The NB3 Foundation’s focus on addressing Native-American childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes through sports, health and wellness programs, healthy foods access, community leadership development, and advocacy positioned this organization to spearhead this effort.

The NB3 Foundation, through the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, was able to conduct an unprecedented level of outreach, research, education, and facilitated dialogue about possible next steps to address these issues in New Mexico. The project focused on engaging 255 stakeholders who participated in the stakeholder interviews and/or participated in four convenings held over the course of the project.

The project began with an environmental scan comprised of a literature review of secondary research, limited primary research and facilitated convenings of stakeholders which gathered information on rates of Native-American 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 collaborations and opportunities for collaborations; pertinent academic research; community-specific innovations/promising practices; and actionable recommendations. 

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