Recent federal data has shown a disparity in obesity, and health concerns related to obesity, among American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations. The CDC reported in 2009 that 31.2% of American Indian four-year-olds were obese, the highest rate of any racial or ethnic group, and in 2015, according to IHS data, AI/AN people had the highest rates of diabetes in the country, with rates twice as high, and a mortality rate three times as high, as non-Hispanic Whites.
Researchers, policy makers, and health professionals have realized that addressing the complex causes of Indigenous nutritional health disparities—including biomedical, social, economic, and historical factors—requires the application of both interdisciplinary academic and experiential knowledge. To help address this need, the GMR is funding the Research for Indigenous Community Health (RICH) Center at the University of Minnesota to further the development of a curated database of reliable information resources relevant to Native nutritional health, accessible via a public website. The project draws on multiple sources of “food wisdom” — including experiential, Indigenous community-based, and crossdisciplinary academic knowledge — and will create a searchable repository providing a directory of experts, a bibliography of publications, and information on relevant projects, programs, and resources.
Over the last few months, the project team has been working diligently to develop a test site into a working prototype. A needs assessment was completed and user-testing of the proof-of-concept site is taking place to maximize usability. Over the coming months, the RICH Center will populate the prototype with hundreds of publications, including links out to PubMed when applicable, as well as examples of 20+ projects and programs and more than 50 experts.
Stay tuned to Midwest Matters to hear more about the progress and learn when the final prototype is complete!