Native Americans represent approximately 1 percent of the U.S. population, but account for some of the worst health outcomes related to preventable chronic diseases (diabetes, heart disease, cancer, alcoholism) than any other racial or ethnic group. In considering the risk factors for these diseases, Native American people have among the highest rates of obesity, with many children experiencing obesity rates two to three times greater than other racial/ethnic populations. But this was not always the case. Only in the last half of the 20th century have the documented cases of diabetes rates in Native communities increased so drastically.
Food and Nutrition