Rates of Health Problems Among Urban American Indians Do Not Decline as Income Rises, According to Study
Rates of diabetes, obesity and smoking remain consistent across income levels among American Indians living in urban areas, according to a study released Wednesday by the Urban Indian Health Institute, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. For the study, Maile Taualii, scientific director at the Institute, and colleagues analyzed five years of data from a random digit dial telephone survey conducted by CDC in 34 cities. Researchers found that as incomes of urban American Indians increased, rates of binge drinking and tobacco use remained the same, or in some cases increased. This is at odds with rates among other racial groups, which usually decline as income increases, Taualii said.
According to Taualii, in the general population, those with lower incomes tend to experience higher rates of health problems, such as diabetes and obesity. Taualii said, "When Indian folks drink, it appears to have nothing to do with how much money they have, and that's not true for any other racial group," adding, "There seems to be a sense of hopelessness, a sense that diabetes, alcoholism and other health problems are inevitable in the community."
More than half of American Indians and Alaska Natives in the U.S. live in cities. Most receive health care at government-funded tribal clinics in or near the urban areas where they live, but staff at some clinics have reported difficulty in treating patients because of budgetary constraints. The Senate last week approved legislation (S 1200) that would increase funding for Indian Health Service programs, as well as provide funding to construct new facilities, modernize clinics and recruit more American Indians into medical professions (Burke, AP/Contra Costa Times, 3/5).