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Indigenous peoples in danger

13th November 2006

10042006_world_health.jpgExperts have warned that indigenous peoples around the world may be wiped out by diabetes if obesity trends in their communities aren't addressed.

Scientists meeting at a diabetes conference in Melbourne heard that Western diets and sedentary lifestyles were leading to obesity and a rise in Type 2 diabetes in Asia, the Pacific, Australia and the Americas.

The conference aims to agree on a set of measures to present to the United Nations for an international effort to curb the epidemic, which has reached the level of eight million new cases globally every year.

By 2050, around 250 million are likely to be affected by Type 2 diabetes, which carries an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.

Already, half the adult population of Nauru, a Pacific island with a population of just 10,000 people, has been affected. The disease was unknown on the island before the Second World War.

Other peoples in danger are the Sioux and Pima Indians in the United States, 45% of whom have the disease and the Torres Strait Islanders in northern Australia, where 30% are affected.

Experts blamed the rapid cultural transition over one to two generations of many indigenous communities to a Western diet and sedentary lifestyle.

But indigenous peoples could still be saved if measures were taken now, they said.

 

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