Puget Sound Traditional Food and Diabetes

Collaborative research between tribal members, health care workers and archaeologists




Diabetes facts









Type 2 diabetes is not inevitable for people at high risk for developing it. “Exercise, eating right, and, for those who are overweight, losing about fifteen pounds can slash the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by as much as 71 percent in some people at high risk for the disease” (D’Arrigo-Kordella 2001: 50). In response to the diabetes crisis, Indian Health Services and many Native communities have begun to implement prevention and care programs.  School programs such as Pathways and Quest have been developed and implemented in some Native American communities in order to increase physical activity, improve diet and decrease obesity.  Many researchers believe that lifestyle intervention can be particularly effective for young children (e.g. Acton et al. 2002). 


However, the majority of these programs operate in a clinical setting and start only after diabetes is already diagnosed. Diabetes rates have continued to rise, especially in younger populations. Most importantly, diabetes research and education efforts to date have not been directed towards the particular history and culture of Puget Sound Native American communities. Educators have recognized a lack of information about prehistoric diet and post-contact diet transformations.


Project team members include Tribal health service providers, educators and elders. As we gather locally relevant information about traditional diets in Puget Sound, we will also be working to develop innovative and effective education programs for both children and adults about links between diet, disease, history and cultural identity. Watch this site for additional information.