Health

IHS and NB3 Foundation partner to ‘turn the tide’ on obesity in Indian Country

The Indian Health Service and the Notah Begay III Foundation are working to establish a national center focused on the fight against childhood obesity.

In a prepared release, both entities are collaborating on activities to share best practices in community-based activities addressing the issue.

"This unprecedented partnership between the Obama administration, the IHS, and the NB3F demonstrates the critical importance of leveraging partnerships and resources to tackle the health crisis facing Native American children," said NB3F founder Notah Begay III. "With 1 out of 2 Native American children expected to develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime, it is vital that effective strategies and best practices are accessible for all Native communities, so together we can turn the tide on childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes."

The collaboration was initiated Nov. 12 in support of the Let's Move! In Indian Country (LMIC) program, which is part of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative. The LMIC seeks to improve the health of Native youth.

"Today's partnership is an important step towards helping Native American youth lead healthier lives," said Sam Kass, executive director of Let's Move! and White House senior policy advisor on nutrition. "With the LMIC, we've seen tribal leaders engage their communities by creating food policy councils and reintroducing sports like lacrosse into schools, but we know there is more work to be done to ensure all our children have the healthy futures they deserve."

According to the prepared release, obesity is a significant problem in Native communities. It is a risk factor for many chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, which are among the leading causes of death for Native Americans and Alaska Natives.

"Tribal leaders have asked us to focus more on prevention efforts, especially with our youth," said Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, acting director of the IHS. "Our new partnership with the NB3F gives us an opportunity to identify and share best practices from all of our prevention efforts, including the successful activities and outcomes of our Special Diabetes Program for Indian grantees, to help in the fight against childhood obesity in the communities we serve. We are excited to partner with them as they establish a new national center focused on these issues."

NB3F has developed community-driven, scalable, and replicable prevention models that have seen statistically significant outcomes among child participants in the areas of reduced body mass index or BMI (a measure of weight proportionate to a person's height), increased self-confidence and endurance, and enhanced understanding of nutrition knowledge. In August of this year, NB3F launched a national initiative, Native Strong: Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures that functions as a national center focused on strategic grant making, research and mapping, capacity building, and advocacy to combat type 2 diabetes and obesity among Native American children.