Study shows that indigenous people are not genetically prone to diabetes

April 16, 2007

The high rate of diabetes among indigenous people is not due to their genetic heritage, according to a recently published study.

The study was authored by Dr Yin Paradies, an epidemiologist from Darwin's Menzies School of Health Research along with two researchers from the United States. It shows that the high rates of diabetes among indigenous people across the globe are rooted in social disadvantage rather than a genetic pre-disposition specific to indigenous populations.

"Around the world, indigenous people suffer from diabetes at 2-5 times the rate of non-indigenous people", says Dr Paradies.

"There is a common misconception that diabetes is 'in the genes' for Indigenous people. This idea stems from the 'thrifty gene hypothesis' which proposes that cycles of feast and famine in indigenous societies created a gene that was very efficient at using nutrients. According to this hypothesis, such efficiency combined with a modern affluent and sedentary lifestyle leads to obesity and diabetes among indigenous people."

"Although there is certainly a genetic component to diabetes that affects people throughout society, the idea that indigenous people have a 'thrifty gene' is dispelled by our research which shows that when it comes to diabetes, genes are no more important for indigenous people than for anyone else."

"Instead, it is aspects of the social environment that are responsible for the high rates of diabetes among indigenous people. Poor diet, reduced physical activity, stress, low birth weight and other factors associated with poverty all contribute to the high rate of diabetes among indigenous people", Dr Paradies said.

"For indigenous people, diabetes will only be tackled by addressing poverty and social disadvantage".

Source: Research Australia

Explore further: Indigenous group tackles diabetes with storytelling

Related Stories

Indigenous group tackles diabetes with storytelling

January 16, 2018
When Emily's mother lay dying of kidney failure from years of diabetes, Emily begged the doctors to take her kidney and transplant it into her mom. But the doctors refused —Emily had diabetes too. She would need both kidneys ...

Why simple school sores often lead to heart and kidney disease in Indigenous children

December 11, 2017
Impetigo, also known as school sores, is a highly contagious bacterial skin infection that occurs in children far more frequently than adults. It is one of the most common bacterial infections in children aged two to five ...

New research highlights the importance of culturally safe care for Indigenous patients with diabetes

January 23, 2017
In Canada, rates of Type 2 diabetes are three to five percent higher in Indigenous peoples when compared to non-Indigenous peoples. Not only this, but Indigenous Canadians typically have poorer health outcomes during treatment ...

Sharing is caring when it comes to chronic illness

July 7, 2011
Sharing stories and health information with friends and families gives strength to Indigenous Australians living with chronic illness, a new study has found.

Research links severe hunger at residential schools to today's health of Indigenous peoples

August 15, 2017
The severe hunger and malnutrition that many Indigenous children suffered at Canadian residential schools have contributed to Indigenous peoples' elevated risk of obesity and diabetes, according to University of Toronto public ...

Simplifying diagnosis of diabetes in remote indigenous settings

July 6, 2015
Researchers have found a way of simplifying the diagnosis of diabetes in Indigenous Australians living in remote health care settings, according to a study published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Recommended for you

Study of smoking and genetics illuminates complexities of blood pressure

February 15, 2018
Analyzing the genetics and smoking habits of more than half a million people has shed new light on the complexities of controlling blood pressure, according to a study led by researchers at Washington University School of ...

New mutation linked to ovarian cancer can be passed down through dad

February 15, 2018
A newly identified mutation, passed down through the X-chromosome, is linked to earlier onset of ovarian cancer in women and prostate cancer in father and sons. Kunle Odunsi, Kevin H. Eng and colleagues at Roswell Park Comprehensive ...

A gene that increases the risk of pancreatic cancer controls inflammation in normal tissue

February 14, 2018
Inflammation is a defensive response of the body to pathogens, but when it persists, it can be harmful, even leading to cancer. Hence, it is crucial to understand the relationship between inflammation and cancer. A group ...

Scientists develop low-cost way to build gene sequences

February 13, 2018
A new technique pioneered by UCLA researchers could enable scientists in any typical biochemistry laboratory to make their own gene sequences for only about $2 per gene. Researchers now generally buy gene sequences from commercial ...

New insights into gene underlying circadian rhythms

February 13, 2018
A genetic modification in a "clock gene" that influences circadian rhythm produced significant changes in the length and magnitude of cycles, providing insight into the complex system and giving scientists a new tool to further ...

Clues to aging found in stem cells' genomes

February 13, 2018
Little hints of immortality are lurking in fruit flies' stem cells.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.