Obesity in American-Indian children: Prevalence, consequences, and prevention

Mary T Story, June Stevens, John H Himes, Elaine Stone, Bonnie Holy Rock, Becky Ethelbah, Sally Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Background. American Indians of all ages and both sexes have a high prevalence of obesity. The health risks associated with obesity are numerous and include Type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and respiratory problems. Obesity has become a major health problem in American Indians only in the past few generations and it is believed to be associated with the relative abundance of high-fat, high-calorie foods and the rapid change from active to sedentary lifestyles. Methods. The authors reviewed selected literature on prevalence of obesity in American-Indian children, and health consequences of obesity. Results. Obesity is now one of the most serious public health problems facing American-Indian children, and it has grave implications for the immediate and long-term health of American-Indian youth. Unless this pattern is reversed, American-Indian populations will be burdened by an increased incidence of chronic diseases. Intervention studies are urgently needed in American-Indian communities to develop and test effective strategies for obesity prevention and treatment. Conclusions. To be effective, educational and environmental interventions must be developed with full participation of the American-Indian communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S3-S12
JournalPreventive medicine
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Dec 2003


  • American Indian
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Children
  • Diet
  • Native American
  • Obesity
  • Physical activity
  • Prevention
  • Type 2 diabetes


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