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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 911: I All Africa Horticultural Congress

GARDENS FOR HEALTH: DEVELOPMENT OF A MODEL DIABETES INTERVENTION PROJECT AMONG AN INDIGENOUS TRIBE IN NORTHWEST NEW MEXICO

Authors:   K. Lombard, S.C. Forster-Cox, K. Huttlinger, D. Smeal, S.A.A. Beresford, M. O'Neill
Keywords:   diabetes, indigenous health, gardening, nutrition, diet, fruit and vegetable, semi-arid agriculture
Abstract:
The incidence of type-2 diabetes among Native American people is four times higher than the general US population and is correlated with poor income, limited fruit and vegetable consumption, other dietary shifts away from traditional foods, and limited physical exercise. Persons with diabetes are at greater risk for developing cardio-vascular disease (CVD) and certain cancers. This trend is transferable to Africa where the burden of diabetes is expected to increases 2-3 times by 2010. Garden projects have successfully addressed nutrition and food security issues on a grassroots scale. The benefits of expanding diabetes interventions to include the promotion of gardening provides multiple opportunities which include: 1) nutritious food grown locally, 2) physical activity attained through gardening tasks, 3) positive mental outlook, and 4) income generating activities through the act of selling produce. Yet, little research has been conducted to jointly demonstrate the health and horticultural benefits of gardening when incorporated into a diabetes intervention project. A survey of Native Americans located in Central/Northwest New Mexico asked the following questions: Do individuals who participate in gardening activities demonstrate fewer characteristics of obesity, participate in more exercise, and consume fewer unhealthy foods? Evidence suggests a strong need for organizational structure involving public health officials, nutritionists, and horticultural extension agents working in tandem to allow access to gardens for indigenous people including Africans.
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