November 25th, 2009
The Tohono O’odham Tribe in Arizona is reported to have the highest rate of adult onset diabetes in the world. Many of the tribe’s 28,000 members live on a reservation in the desert in the U.S. southwest state of Arizona.
The news reports that until 1960, no one in the tribe had diabetes because people ate traditional foods that helped prevent the disease. But, apparently, with the introduction of foods high in fat and calories, diabetes has become widespread, including in tribal children. The O’odham people are now being encouraged to go back to eating the traditional foods and a cafe on the reservation is making those foods appealing.
The Desert Rain Cafe on the reservation serves calcium rich cholla buds from the Cholla cactus, and fruit smoothies with nutritious chia seeds, and a meat dish with high protein tepary beans.
Tribal officials say up to 70% of O’odham people have diabetes.
Traditionally, the Tohono O’dham were farmers who harvested food from native plants. But today few people farm.