Long are the days when people smoked nearly everywhere- offices, colleges and universities, government buildings, eating and drinking establishments, homes and even airplanes.  Few gave it much thought, accepting it as a societal or social norm.  Kids saw it, adults did it and that was that.  Eventually, we figured out that it was a major public health issue, resulting in cancer and other sicknesses and costing lives and billions of dollars.


Today we continue to face similar public health challenges and are battling similar forces experienced during the fight to eliminate smoking in public spaces and the marketing tactics of the tobacco industry. One such fight is sugar.  It’s everywhere and in everything.  And like the tobacco industry, the propaganda and marketing of sugary products, particularly to youth, is pervasive.  Walk in to nearly any school, corner market, or store and you will directly encounter cheap junk food and beverages. Meanwhile, we are facing catastrophic rates of type-2 diabetes and other health challenges associated with obesity and other unhealthy behaviors.  In fact, according to CDC reports, the proportion of AI/AN adults (18 years and older) with diagnosed diabetes is 15.1%. In comparison, the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes among non-Hispanic White adults is 7.4%


Like smoking, the over inclusion and consumption of sugar must be curbed now. But how? It will require the same type of dedication and focus by individuals and champions that stood up to the tobacco industry to stand up against the industries that are forcing sugary products on our communities. Solutions must simultaneously include:


Indian Country is facing the highest rates of diabetes in human history while sugar-based industries aggressively market sugary drinks in our communities. Never the less, the solutions and efforts to curb are in our hands.  Be the architects of your own destiny!